Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have revealed that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic around the world has affected a great many more people than official statements have reported.
According to the researchers, who collaborated with the University of Melbourne and Ikigai Research, estimated the true numbers of infections in 15 countries were on average 6.2 times greater than those reported.
“COVID-19 infection rates in the UK, France and Belgium are much higher than reported and up to 17 times higher in Italy,” the researchers claimed.
Professor Quentin Grafton of the ANU said the study estimated the true number of infections across a combined population of over 800 million people in 11 European countries, as well as Australia, Canada, South Korea and the USA.
“We found COVID-19 infections are much higher than confirmed cases across many countries, and this has important implications for both control and the probability of infection,” Professor Grafton said.
“Our analysis has found more than 5.4 million in the UK – 8 per cent of the population – are or have been infected with the coronavirus.
“In Australia, our modelling shows the actual rate of infected and recovered people at the end of August may have been five times higher than reported, with 0.48 per cent of the population, or up to 130,000 people possibly infected.
“That’s much higher than the confirmed proportion of 0.10 per cent of the population,” he said.
According to Steven Phipps from Ikigai Research, the group used ‘backcasting’ to analyse the fatality numbers, delivering 95 per cent confidence their estimates were true.
“Simply put, we analysed statistics on how many people had died from COVID-19 in a given country and then worked backwards to see how many people would have to have been infected to arrive at that number of deaths,” Dr Phipps said.
“Our method is a novel and easy-to-use method for estimating the true infection rate wherever there is reliable data on the number of fatalities attributable to COVID-19,” he said.
The researchers’ paper which has been published in the Royal Society Open Science can be accessed at this PS News link.