The number of people infected with the coronavirus in Los Angeles County may be upward of hundreds of thousands, far more than the official tally reflects.
Preliminary results from a study of Los Angeles County residents show 4.1% of adults have antibodies to the virus in their blood, which means they have been exposed to the coronavirus, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Researchers conducting the study say that translates into 221,000 to 442,000 adults who have recovered from the virus, once margin of error is taken into account. LA County had reported less than the nearly 8,000 cases at the time, according to the newspaper. That means the infection numbers are 28 to 55 times higher than reported.
The initial study findings released Monday also indicate the death rate may be much lower than previously expected.
The University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health teamed up for the study, which conducted antibody testing on 863 people.
The early results from LA County come several days after Stanford researchers reported that the coronavirus appears to have circulated more in Santa Clara County than previously thought.
That study estimates the number of infections ranges between 48,000 and 81,000, but the county only reported 1,000 cases earlier this month.
Both studies estimate a mortality rate of 0.1% to 0.2%, which is closer to the death rate associated with the seasonal flu.
The studies also show that a large population of people are carrying the virus without symptoms and could be spreading it without knowing.
The LA County study shows that men were more likely to be infected than women.
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