A coronavirus antibody study conducted in Wuhan in mid-April showed that the true count of COVID-19 infections may be 10 times higher than the number reported by health officials.
Among the 11 million people living in the city, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 4.43% had antibodies to the virus. At this rate, about 500,000 people were infected with the new virus, but the city reported about 50,000 infections at the time.
The CDC study involved more than 34,000 people in Wuhan and six nearby provinces. Wuhan is the first virus discovered more than a year ago.
In areas outside Wuhan, the study found that the prevalence of antibodies was significantly reduced to 0.44%. The CDC said that the low rate indicates that Wuhan’s disease control measures “effectively prevented the large-scale spread of the virus,”
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Experts told the news media that the difference in the number of reported coronavirus infections and the actual number of potential diseases may be due to misfortune and struggle detected at the beginning of the outbreak and asymptomatic transmission. At the peak of the first wave, there were also differences in the way of counting cases among health institutions.
Ian Mackay, an associate professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post: “To be precise, we missed how many things we didn’t know, but it gave us an idea, that is, we I have missed a lot.”
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It is unclear whether health agencies plan to publish the data in journals or whether they are considering peer review.
On Monday, China sentenced a former lawyer who reported the early stages of the outbreak and sentenced him to four years in prison. According to the Associated Press, Zhang Zhan was accused of spreading false information, conducting false interviews with foreign media, disrupting public order and “maliciously” manipulating the epidemic.
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The country has previously faced accusations that it must cover up the true depth of the outbreak at an early stage, and may spread the virus worldwide by delaying information sharing and rejecting investigation teams from outside countries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.