A new state study suggests that the number of people in Los Angeles County who have been infected with Covid-19 during the pandemic is much higher than the number confirmed by standard tests. That’s largely due to the number of people who never developed symptoms and therefore never got tested, or were unable to access testing, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara said today. Ferrer.
The research, based on the results of antibody tests carried out on a control group and then extrapolated to the general population, found that between May and June of last year, there were actually three times as many adults infected with covid-19 as reported by the county based on confirmed data. Test results. Among children, the numbers were even more dramatic, suggesting that five times as many children were actually infected than tests confirmed.
“Researchers estimated that at the time of the study, which was late spring 2021, 30% of Los Angeles County adults had been infected and 37% of children had been infected,” Ferrer said of the results of the CalScope study.
In that same time period, the county only reported infections in 10% of adults and just under 10% of children, he said.
The stark differences were reportedly due to deficiencies in the test system. He pointed out that many people who may have been infected with the virus never got tested because they never got sick or developed any symptoms. Access to testing was also limited at times, preventing people from confirming their infections.
Ferrer also said that the current widespread availability of home tests is also affecting the official case count, as the people doing the home tests do not necessarily report their results to the county.
The study data “may serve as an indication of the large number of infections that are going unreported in Los Angeles County,” Ferrer said. “This is important to understand because it gives us an idea of the true scope and impact of the pandemic.”
His comments came as the county sees a steady rise in infection rates, fueled by the infectious BA.2 subvariant of the virus. Based on the most recent genetic testing on samples of Covid cases in the county, the subvariant is now believed to account for 67% of all infections locally. That’s an increase from 47% a week ago and 32% the week before.
The numbers mean that BA.2 is now confirmed as the dominant strain of the virus circulating in the county.
Ferrer said the county is now averaging more than 1,000 new cases a day over the past week, up from 878 the week before.
But while case rates have been rising steadily, the county is yet to see increases in hospitalizations or deaths, a development that Ferrer said could be the result of higher vaccination rates or other levels of immunity that prevent people from getting sick. become seriously ill from infections.
He went on to warn that a covid infection still has the potential to have serious consequences, including death. But he also said that while the county is seeing an increase in cases, it’s not seeing “exponential growth.”
“We’re seeing kind of small, steady increases, somewhere between a 2% to 3% increase every day in cases,” he said. “At some point this will become more of a concern if it doesn’t level off, and our hope is that it will stabilize. Our hope is that people actually recognize that we have a more infectious sub-variant going around. Be more careful. Put on that mask in these higher risk environments. Go ahead and get tested when you are meeting. Be sensible in trying to avoid re-infection or re-infection.”
The county reported 1,214 new infections Thursday, giving it an overall confirmed total of 2,849,185 since the start of the pandemic. Another 12 deaths were also reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 31,839.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose to 1.7% as of Thursday, up from last week’s levels but still low overall.
According to state figures, there were 239 Covid-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, up from 256 on Wednesday. Of those patients, 32 were being treated in intensive care, up from 35 the day before.
City News Service contributed to this report.