The number of COVID-19 cases across the world must be staggering. But a recent report says that it is just tip of the iceberg as only 6% of the cases have been discovered.
A recent report from the University of Göttingen suggests that what has been reported in the media was much below the actual number. The data was analysed by Dr Christian Bommer and Professor Sebastian Vollmer.
The data shows that countries have only discovered on average about 6% of coronavirus infections and the actual number could go into tens of millions.
They pointed out that insufficient and delayed testing in some countries like Italy and Spain could be one reason and it reflected a high rate of casualties. Germany, which has detected an estimated 15.6% of infections compared to only 3.5% in Italy or 1.7% in Spain. Detection rates are even lower in the United States (1.6%) and the United Kingdom (1.2%), according to the study.
They also found that South Korea discovered almost half of all its infections. The authors estimate that on 31 March 2020, Germany had 460,000 infections. Based on the same method, they calculate that the United States had more than ten million, Spain more than five million, Italy around three million and the United Kingdom around two million infections. On the same day the Johns Hopkins University reported that globally there were less than 900,000 confirmed cases, meaning that the vast majority of infections were undetected.
Sebastian Vollmer, Professor of Development Economics at the University of Göttingen, says, “These results mean that governments and policy-makers need to exercise extreme caution when interpreting case numbers for planning purposes. Such extreme differences in the amount and quality of testing carried out in different countries mean that official case records are largely uninformative and do not provide helpful information.” Christian Bommer adds: “Major improvements in the ability of countries to detect new infections and contain the virus are urgently needed.”