LOS ANGELES — Confirmed coronavirus cases only tell a portion of the story in any area, but a new study out of Los Angeles County has come to a startling conclusion. Based on the first round of antibody testing, 4.1% of the county’s entire adult population has already come into contact with the virus and developed an antibody.
After adjusting for statistical margin of error, that means anywhere from 221,000 to 442,000 local adults in Los Angeles have been infected by the coronavirus. That number is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed COVID-19 cases in LA at the time the study was conducted earlier this month.
This research, performed by the University of Southern California, has a number of implications. Besides just documenting how widespread the coronavirus has become, it also suggests a lower fatality rate. As of today there have been just over 600 COVID-19 related deaths in Los Angeles 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,” explains Paul Simon, chief science officer at the L.A. County Department of Public Health and co-lead on the study, in a release.
“We haven’t known the true extent of COVID-19 infections in our community because we have only tested people with symptoms, and the availability of tests has been limited,” adds lead investigator Neeraj Sood, professor of public policy at the USC Price School for Public Policy and senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. “The estimates also suggest that we might have to recalibrate disease prediction models and rethink public health strategies.”