Global coronavirus infections may be six times higher than reported: Study

At a time when the world continues to reel under the coronavirus pandemic, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Melbourne have found that the actual number of global coronavirus infections could be up to six times higher than the reported number of cases.

According to a modelling study , the researchers found the number of coronavirus infection rates between March 2020 and August 2020 across 15 countries were on average 6.2 times greater than reported cases.

The data was published in a journal named Royal Society Open Science, which shows coronavirus infection rates in the UK, France, Belgium and Italy are much higher than reported and in the case of Italy as high as up to 17-times.

According to the data, Australia had the best level of detection among the 15 countries by the end of April, but the rate of infection may still have been five times higher than what has been officially reported at the end of August, as reported by news agency PTI.

The study estimated the true number of infections across a combined population of over 800 million people in 11 European countries, as well as Australia, Canada, South Korea and the US, PTI quoted the researchers.

“We found COVID-19 infections are much higher than confirmed cases across many countries, and this has important implications for both control and the probability of infection. For example, our analysis has found more than 5.4 million in the UK, 8 per cent of the population, are or have been infected with the coronavirus,” PTI quoted study co-author Professor Quentin Grafton, from ANU.

“These findings raise serious questions about how we deal with all facets of the coronavirus pandemic, including ongoing morbidity and life-long health impacts for people who have been infected, how we implement and manage lockdowns, and how we make sure we are on top of this pandemic more broadly,” Grafton said.

The researchers used the process “backcasting” that examines coronavirus-related deaths and also compares this with the time from infection to symptoms and time from symptoms to death.

According to Grafton, the process allows them to provide a 95 per cent confidence interval around their estimated true (population) infection rate.

“Simply put, we analysed statistics on how many people had died from COVID-I9 in a given country and then worked backwards to see how many people would have to have been infected to arrive at that number of deaths. “Our method is a novel and easy-to-use method for estimating the true infection rate wherever there is reliable data on the number of fatalities attributable to COVID-19, ” PTI quoted Ikigai Research Steven Phipps.

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