Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Study Warns Number of U.S. COVID-19 Cases Much Higher Than Reported

By Brian Orelli, PhD - Mar 9, 2020 at 3:45PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Cedars-Sinai researchers say the window to prevent a major epidemic is closing.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center estimate that there could have been more than 9,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of March 1, a substantially higher figure than the 423 confirmed cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.

The study used air traffic data from Wuhan, China, to the U.S. prior to Jan. 23, when the Chinese government locked down that city, to estimate the number of cases of COVID-19 likely to have spread across the U.S. since then. Based on the coronavirus's transmission dynamics, the researchers calculated that there were between 1,043 and 9,484 cases in the U.S. on March 1.

The low end of that range was based on the assumption that preventative measures, such as quarantines and screening of international travelers at airports, had been able to reduce the transmissibility by as much as 25%. The high end assumed no intervention. The researchers noted that the wide difference between those estimates pointed up the need for governments to take concerted preventative measures.

People on the sidewalk wearing face masks

Image source: Getty Images.

The researchers noted their estimate was "very conservative" since it doesn't consider the impact of cases that may have arrived from other parts of China or other affected countries, such as South Korea, Italy, or Iran. "This makes our current estimation likely to be an underestimation of the true number of infected individuals in the U.S.," the researchers wrote.

The researchers believe their numbers are substantially higher than the CDC's number of reported cases because a large percentage of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus experience only mild symptoms or remain entirely asymptomatic. The study's findings, they conclude, suggest "that the opportunity window to contain the epidemic of COVID-19 in its early stage is closing."

So far, there are no cures for COVID-19, but multiple drugmakers, including large ones such as Gilead Sciences (GILD 0.63%) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.09%), as well as smaller companies, such as Moderna (MRNA 2.58%) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO -0.48%), are working on treatments and vaccines.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$178.30 (0.09%) $0.16
Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
GILD
$62.73 (0.63%) $0.39
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
INO
$2.06 (-0.48%) $0.01
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$159.56 (2.58%) $4.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
323%
 
S&P 500 Returns
112%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/07/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.