CDC estimates U.S. may have actually had more than 20 million COVID-19 cases

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies at a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2020 in Washi
(Image credit: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

The United States has confirmed more than two million cases of COVID-19 — but that number might be about ten times lower than the real number of infections, the CDC says.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that there may have been about ten times more cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. than have been officially confirmed, NBC News reports.

"Our best estimate right now is that for every case that's reported, there actually are 10 other infections," Redfield said.

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If this estimate is accurate, that would mean there have been more than 20 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S, as about 2.3 million cases have been confirmed. Redfield added that "this virus causes so much asymptomatic infection," and "the traditional approach of looking for symptomatic illness and diagnosing it obviously underestimates the total amount of infections."

According to Reuters, this CDC estimate is based on taking "the number of known cases, between 2.3 million and 2.4 million, multiplied by the average rate of antibodies seen from the serology tests, about an average of 10 to 1."

Health officials have long said that the official number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is likely an undercount. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also said the COVID-19 death toll, which is currently more than 120,000, is "almost certainly" higher.

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