Antibody testing in L.A. County reveals number of COVID-19 infections may be 55X greater than reported

by Jordyn Pair · Apr 21st, 2020 8:24 am

Last Updated Apr 21st, 2020 at 9:32 am

The COVID-19 outbreak in Los Angeles County may be up to 55 times more widespread than reported, according to new antibody testing from the University of Southern California and the L.A. Department of Public Health, indicating that the virus's fatality rate may be significantly lower than previously thought.

Preliminary study results showed that an estimated 4.1% of the county's adult population have antibodies to the virus, meaning between roughly 221,000 adults and 442,000 adults have had the infection. The results are based on antibody testing of around 863 people representative of the county, researchers said.

That estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the nearly 8,000 confirmed cases reported by the county.

"Though the results indicate a lower risk of death among those with infection than was previously thought, the number of Covid-related deaths each day continues to mount, highlighting the need for continued vigorous prevention and control efforts," said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer at the L.A. County Department of Public Health and co-lead on the study, in a statement.

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