The University of Bonn researchers have concluded, following a field trial in one of the worst-hit towns, that more than 10 times as many people in Germany have likely been infected with the Coronavirus than the number of confirmed cases.
Though yet to be peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal, the preliminary study results serve as a reminder of the dangers of infection by unidentified carriers of the virus, some of whose conditions are asymptotic, the researchers said.
The readings come as Germany took further steps on Monday to ease restrictions, with museums, salons, churches, and more car factories reopening under strict conditions.
About 1.8 million people living in Germany must have been infected, which is over 10 times the number of about 160,000 confirmed cases so far, the team led by medical researchers Hendrik Streeck and Gunther Hartmann concluded.
“The results can aid further improvement of models to calculate how the virus spreads. So far the underlying data has been relatively weak,” Hartmann said in a statement.
Report confirming their result, the team analysed blood and nasal swabs from a random sample of 919 people living in a town in the municipality of Heinsberg on the Dutch border, where the highest fatality toll had been recorded in Germany.
To arrive at their estimate, the researchers put the town’s number of known deaths from COVID-19 relative to the larger estimate of local people with a prior infection – as indicated by antibody blood test readings – and applied the rate of 0.37% to country-wide deaths.
They also found that about one in five of those infected showed no symptoms.
Reported by: Fatimah Oyesanmi