The long awaited antibody studies are starting to give us the data we desperately needed.
It contains fantastically good news.
A new study on the coronavirus death rate gave a shocking result no one suspected.
There are two important numbers to pin down when it comes to the Chinese coronavirus.
The first is the rate of infection or the r0 rate.
The r0 is measured by the number of people each infected person spreads the disease to.
Some illnesses like Chickenpox spread quite rapidly and have an r0 of 10-12, which means each person with chickenpox on average spreads it to 10 to 12 other people. The Seasonal flu has an r0 of 1.3-2.
The coronavirus had been estimated to have an r0 rate of 2-3 but until we have an accurate picture of how many people are infected it is merely a guess.
The other number that’s important is the death rate which calculates what percentage of the people who fall ill from the coronavirus will die.
To get either number we have to figure out the total number of Americans that have it.
That’s where antibody studies come into play. Unlike normal coronavirus testing which show if people are currently ill, an antibody test shows if a person has ever gotten coronavirus in the past.
In Santa Clara County they tested 3000 people and found that there were antibodies at 50-80 times higher than the reported number for the county.
According to the Daily Wire:
The study, the first large-scale community antibody testing in the nation and led by Dr. Eran Bendavid, the associate professor of medicine at Stanford University, found that 2.5 to 4.2% of the 3330 subjects tested were found to have COVID-19 antibodies.
The population prevalence of the virus in the county ranged from 2.49-4.16%, the researchers found.
“These prevalence estimates represent a range between 48,000 and 81,000 people infected in Santa Clara County by early April, 50-85-fold more than the number of confirmed cases,” the study’s abstract explained.
“The population prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Santa Clara County implies that the infection is much more widespread than indicated by the number of confirmed cases,” according to the researchers. If the number of the recovered cases are similarly undercounted across the nation, the fatality rate would accordingly be overstated.
785,000 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus. If those numbers are consistent around the country, which is a huge generalization to make, that would mean 39 million Americans have already gotten the coronavirus and the death rate is low.
The bad side of that statistic is that it could also mean the r0 is incredibly high.
Even if the coronavirus has a death rate that is consistent with the flu if it infects 80% of the American population, instead of the 8% that normally get the flu, we could expect 10 times more deaths that come from a flu season.
These results don’t indicate that the fight against the Chinese coronavirus is over but they provide useful information that could show America a path forward to opening up the economy while protecting the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.