Federal figures have made it clear how much the virus spread undetected or unreported
By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter
WEDNESDAY, July 5, 2023 (HealthDay News) — While a little more than half of American adults think they have had COVID-19, the reality is about 77.5 percent have been infected at least once, new government data show.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released final estimates for people ages 16 years and older for 2022. About 96.7 percent of adults had antibodies to the virus either from infection, vaccination, or a combination of the two, the CDC reported. But U.S. Census data show that only 54.9 percent of Americans think they have had COVID-19.
Estimates for children were previously released, using data from commercial testing laboratories, in which nine of 10 people younger than age 18 years had been infected, CBS News reported. While young adults and teens had the highest percentage of prior infection at 87.1 percent, seniors were the least likely to have had a prior infection, with about 56.5 percent of those older than 65 years having had COVID-19, the CDC found. The teen and young adult category includes those ages 16 to 29 years.
“It’s become very difficult to measure prior infection in vaccine effectiveness studies. So, if you think about the typical person being hospitalized that’s picked up in one of these studies, they may have had half a dozen prior infections that they did a nasal swab at home and were never reported,” the Ruth Link-Gelles of the CDC, said at a meeting of its outside advisers recently, CBS News reported. Studies on vaccine effectiveness should now be seen “in the context” of most people having previous antibodies, Link-Gelles added.
Still, having those antibodies is not fully protective because immunity wanes. That can be seen in one specific datapoint, that 17 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations by the end of last year were from reinfections, according to a recent CDC study.
Infection rates in Hispanic people were 80.6 percent, while in White people, that number was 80 percent. Black people had infection rates of 75 percent, and for Asian Americans, it was 66.1 percent. Data in the CDC dashboard for 47 states had Vermont with the lowest prevalence of past infections, at 64.4 percent, while Iowans had the highest percentage, at 90.6 percent, CBS News reported.
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