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Estimating unobserved SARS-CoV-2 infections in the United States
Alex Perkins; Sean M. Cavany; Sean M Moore; Rachel J Oidtman; Anita Lerch; Marya Poterek.
  • Alex Perkins; University of Notre Dame
  • Sean M. Cavany; University of Notre Dame
  • Sean M Moore; University of Notre Dame
  • Rachel J Oidtman; University of Notre Dame
  • Anita Lerch; University of Notre Dame
  • Marya Poterek; University of Notre Dame
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20036582
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By March 2020, COVID-19 led to thousands of deaths and disrupted economic activity worldwide. As a result of narrow case definitions and limited capacity for testing, the number of unobserved SARS-CoV-2 infections during its initial invasion of the US remains unknown. We developed an approach for estimating the number of unobserved infections based on data that are commonly available shortly after the emergence of a new infectious disease. The logic of our approach is, in essence, that there are bounds on the amount of exponential growth of new infections that can occur during the first few weeks after imported cases start appearing. Applying that logic to data on imported cases and local deaths in the US through March 12, we estimated that 22,876 (95% posterior predictive interval 7,451 - 53,044) infections occurred in the US by this date. By comparing the models predictions of symptomatic infections to local cases reported over time, we obtained daily estimates of the proportion of symptomatic infections detected by surveillance. This revealed that detection of symptomatic infections decreased throughout February as exponential growth of infections outpaced increases in testing. Between February 21 and March 12, we estimated an increase in detection of symptomatic infections, which was strongly correlated (median 0.97, 95% PPI 0.85 - 0.98) with increases in testing. These results suggest that testing was a major limiting factor in assessing the extent of SARS-CoV-2 transmission during its initial invasion of the US. Significance StatementCountries across the world observed dramatic rises in COVID-19 cases and deaths in March 2020. In the United States, delays in the availability of diagnostic testing prompted questions about the extent of unobserved community transmission. Using a simulation model informed by reported cases and deaths, we estimated that tens of thousands of people were infected by the time a national emergency was declared on March 13. Our results indicate that fewer than 20% of locally acquired, symptomatic infections in the US were detected over a period of a month. The existence of a large, unobserved reservoir of infection argues for the necessity of large-scale social distancing that went into effect to mitigate the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 on the US.
Texte intégral: Disponible Collection: Preprints Base de données: medRxiv Type d'étude: Étude pronostique langue: Anglais Année: 2020 Type de document: Preprint

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Texte intégral: Disponible Collection: Preprints Base de données: medRxiv Type d'étude: Étude pronostique langue: Anglais Année: 2020 Type de document: Preprint