Antibody Tests in Colorado Highlight the Huge Gap Between Confirmed Covid-19 Cases and Total Infections

Clarifying the prevalence and lethality of the virus will require wide testing that goes beyond a single rural county.

by Jacob Sullum

The latest results of mass antibody testing in San Miguel County, Colorado, suggest that 1 to 3 percent of the local population has been infected by the virus that causes COVID-19. The early results from the program, the first of its kind in the United States, underline the point that official counts of COVID-19 cases, which are limited to people who are sick enough to be tested for the virus, greatly understate the total number of infections.

United Biomedical, a company based in Hauppauge, New York, is collaborating with the San Miguel County Department of Health and Environment to test all 8,000 or so residents of the county. So far the company has drawn about 6,000 blood samples, although analysis has been delayed because of limited laboratory capacity. The health department announced initial results on April 2 and April 14.

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