- The coronavirus has infected 21% of New York city’s population, according to antibody tests.
- The data imply the disease is much less fatal than previously believed, and lockdowns aren’t the best way to stop it.
- Should more countries follow Sweden’s controversial herd immunity strategy?
Officially, the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has infected over 2.7 million people around the globe. But in reality, the total number of infections could be millions more. According to antibody tests conducted in New York, up to 21% of the city’s entire population has already been exposed to the virus, and most of these people were not recorded as infected.
These data build on similar findings in Italy and Germany that show vast numbers of undetected infections.
COVID-19 may not be as fatal as we think. And mass lockdowns may not be the best way to deal with the disease. A herd immunity strategy, as practiced in Sweden, may be more effective at stopping the pandemic.
What are Antibody Tests, and Why do They Matter?
When the human body is exposed to a virus, the immune system produces an antibody protein designed to counteract the pathogen. Antibody tests look for the presence of these antibodies to determine if a person has ever been infected.
A massive antibody study in New York estimates that 21% of the city’s population has been infected with the coronavirus. With a population of 8.4 million people, this implies that up to 1.2 million New Yorkers have contracted COVID-19 compared to an official count of 146,000–a 10x difference.
These data suggest that the coronavirus is not nearly as fatal as its official case fatality rate would indicate. And lockdowns are not effective at stopping the virus. The virus will spread until the population gets herd immunity.
Coronavirus May Be Far Less Deadly Than we Think
The antibody tests in New York mirror similar findings in other hard-hit areas in Europe where antibody tests found larges swathes of the population were already…