Scientists have found that the number of early coronavirus cases in the U.S. may have been more than 80 times greater.
According to a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, scientists and researchers took the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza-like illnesses (ILI) surveillance data over a three week period in March 2020, and conducted a study on the coronavirus infection rate. What the researchers found was that from the estimations, it appears that throughout the last three weeks of March, the virus was spreading much more rapidly than first expected, or at least officially reported by health officials.
According to Justin Silverman, assistant professor in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology and Department of Medicine, "We analyzed each state's ILI cases to estimate the number that could not be attributed to influenza and were in excess of seasonal baseline levels. When you subtract these out, you're left with what we're calling excess ILI-cases that can't be explained by either influenza or the typical seasonal variation of respiratory pathogens."
Silverman continued, "But we realized that deaths across the U.S. had been doubling every three days and that our estimate of the infection rate was consistent with three-day doubling since the first observed case was reported in Washington state on January 15."
The results of this study provide an alternative point of view of how the COVID-19 pandemic came to fruition, and what kind of virus we are truly dealing with. This study also backs up some predictions from epidemiologists in the early days of the pandemic, which were saying that the virus was already spreading uncontrollably and that health officials were merely playing catch up with all the testing.
Silverman also says, "Our results suggest that the overwhelming effects of COVID-19 may have less to do with the virus' lethality and more to do with how quickly it was able to spread through communities initially. A lower fatality rate coupled with a higher prevalence of disease and rapid growth of regional epidemics provides an alternative explanation of the large number of deaths and overcrowding of hospitals we have seen in certain areas of the world."
If you are interested in reading more into this study, check out this link here.
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