Early Results of Antibody Study Suggests High Number of COVID-19 Infections

L.A. County officials today released early results of an antibody study that suggests the number of COVID-19 infections could be far higher than previously believed.

USC researchers and Public Health officials have been conducting antibody tests using a sample of representative adults from across the county in an attempt to determine the size and scope of the pandemic in L.A. County. =

Based on the preliminary results, the study estimates that up to 4.1% of L.A. County adults has the antibody to COVID-19. Adjusting for a statistical margin of error, the study shows that anywhere between 2.8 percent and 5.6% of the county's adults has the antibody for the virus. That means anywhere between 221,000 and 442,000 people in the county have already been infected by the coronavirus.

That's far higher than the 13,816 cases that are officially confirmed by the county.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health said the early results point to the county's mortality rate from COVID-19, could be far lower than previously thought.

"These results indicate that many persons may have been unknowingly infected and at risk of transmitting the virus to others," said Ferrer. "These findings underscore the importance of expanded polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to diagnose those with infection so they can be isolated and quarantined, while also maintaining the broad social distancing interventions."

According to Dr. Neeraj Sood, the study tested 863 people in Los Angeles county with 4.1% of subjects testing positive.

The results are from the first round of an ongoing study by USC researchers and Public Health officials who are conducting antibody testing over time on a series of representative samples of adults to determine the scope and spread of the pandemic across the county.

Dr. Ferrer also reported 1,491 new cases on Monday. However, 1,198 were reported today due to a commercial lab catching up on a backlog of tests that were conducted earlier this month.

Only 293 cases were new today. The total number of confirmed cases in L.A. County's rose to 13,816 on Monday.

Dr. Ferrer also reported another 17 new coronavirus deaths in the county, bringing the death toll to 617. At least one victim was between the age of 18 and 40, and had no underlying health conditions.

At least 1,709 people are currently hospitalized with coronavirus in L.A. County with 30 percent in the ICU and 17 percent are on ventilators.

The number of confirmed cases around Southern California include:

  • Los Angeles County: 13,816 cases - 617 deaths
  • Orange County: 1,676 cases - 33 deaths
  • Riverside County: 2,638 cases - 75 deaths
  • Ventura County: 422 cases - 13 deaths
  • San Bernardino County: 1,286 cases - 57 deaths
  • San Diego County: 2,268 cases - 75 deaths

Statewide, there are more than 31,740 cases with at least 1,181 deaths reported. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 766,664 cases nationwide with the death toll reaching 40,931 by Monday afternoon.

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