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Around 6% of Coronavirus Infections Discovered Globally, Millions Still Undetected: German Study

A woman in the passenger seat of a car is swabbed for a Covid-19 test at a mobile testing site run by the Cleveland County Health Department, on April 9, 2020, in Norman, Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A woman in the passenger seat of a car is swabbed for a Covid-19 test at a mobile testing site run by the Cleveland County Health Department, on April 9, 2020, in Norman, Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Researchers said that the actual complete figure of people infected by Covid-19 may have already risen to tens of millions of people globally.

Padmaja Venkataraman
  • Last Updated: April 10, 2020, 1:38 PM IST
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The actual number of Covid-19 infections is likely to be significantly higher than the figures recorded by health officials across the globe, according to new German study.


Christian Bommer and Sebastian Vollmer from Germany’s Göttingen University in central Germany studied data from a study that was recently published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases monthly journal, DW reported.


The researchers analysed the novel coronavirus mortality estimates and the period from the contraction of infection until death to evaluate the standard of the official case records.


The researchers’ data revealed that nations have only found on average around 6% of all coronavirus infections. They said that the actual complete figure of people infected by Covid-19 may have already risen to tens of millions of people globally.


"These results mean that governments and policy-makers need to exercise extreme caution when interpreting case numbers for planning purposes," Vollmer, a Professor of Development Economics at the university, was quoted as saying by DW.


He added that such an extreme difference in the quantity and quality of testing done in different countries implies that official records are not giving out helpful information.


As per Bommer and Vollmer’s estimations, 460,000 infections were likely to have been active in Germany on 31 March. Going by the same calculations, they estimate that in US, there were over 10 million possible cases, in Spain more than 5 million, Italy close to 3 million. The UK, meanwhile, had about 2 million Covid-19 infections, the report added.


On that very day, the Johns Hopkins University — a leading research university in the US — was recording close to 900,000 confirmed cases worldwide.


The researchers say that insufficient and delayed testing could be the reasons why certain European countries like Italy and Spain are witnessing much greater casualty rates as compared to Germany.


"While the Johns Hopkins data report less than a million confirmed cases globally at the moment this correspondence is written, we estimate the number of infections to be a few tens of millions," the study said.


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