Thomas Gallatin / Apr. 28, 2020

Widespread Antibodies Raise Questions About State Shutdowns

A fourth antibody test out of Florida confirms infection is much more widespread than officially reported.

The fourth and most recent COVID-19 antibody study — this one conducted in Miami-Dade County, Florida — appears to corroborate three previous studies from California and New York. In short, the virus infection has spread much more widely than has been reported. University of Miami researchers determined that an estimated 6% (or 165,000) of the county’s population has been infected by the virus. The current official number of those having tested positive for COVID-19 in the county is roughly 10,600 and the virus’s death toll in the county sits at 287.

If the findings of the University of Miami’s antibody testing are accurate, it would indicate that the death rate from the virus is around 0.17% — well below the official estimates. Clearly seeking to counter the criticism leveled at the earlier tests, The Miami Herald noted, “UM researchers used statistical methods to account for the limitations of the antibody test, which is known to generate some false positive results. The researchers say they are 95% certain that the true amount of infection lies between 4.4% and 7.9% of the population, with 6% representing the best estimate.” Furthermore, “UM researchers say their findings are more robust than most because they used Florida Power & Light to generate phone numbers in targeted demographic areas, leading to a more randomized selection of participants.”

The more these antibody studies are conducted, the more it appears to corroborate the Stanford University study in Santa Clara, California, which found that the COVID-19 infection rate is vastly higher than reported. In fact, the results of these tests lend more support to those arguing that the state governments’ mandated shutdown and shelter-in-place orders may have been an unnecessary overreaction. Expect these voices to only grow louder, as the damage to the economy is more fully realized over the coming weeks.

Veteran journalist Brit Hume added this perspective: “We were trying to flatten the curve of the growth of the spread of the virus to protect our hospital systems … from getting overwhelmed. Now as it turns out, as a result of these measures … hospitals all across the country … are becoming collateral damage. We may end up doing more damage to our hospital systems because of under-crowding than … overcrowding. … The people who are overwhelmingly vulnerable to this are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and if you’re not in that category … it’s not clear we really needed to close everything down.”

(Updated.)

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