June 26, 2020 -- Blood test data analyzed by the CDC suggest that there have been 10 times as many coronavirus infections in the U.S. than have been included in official counts.
The tests looked for antibodies to the new coronavirus. A positive test indicates that a person has mounted an immune response to a COVID-19 infection.
“The rate is approximately 10 seropositive antibody individuals for every 1 case,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, in a press briefing on Wednesday. “I think that’s the range we’re in.”
What that means, Redfield said, is that somewhere between 5% and 8% of the American public — roughly 20 million people — have been exposed to the virus, leaving more than 90% of the population still vulnerable to the infection. Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking map shows the U.S. with 2.39 million confirmed cases. If 10 times as many have actually been infected, the country’s total cases would be 23.9 million.
Redfield said those estimates would be refined in the coming weeks.
An important message, Redfield said, is that “This outbreak is not over. This pandemic is not over.”
He stressed that people should continue to leave at least 6 feet of space between themselves and others, wash hands frequently, stay at home if they feel ill, and wear a mask in public.