An indirect method to monitor the fraction of people ever infected with COVID-19: An application to the United States

Sánchez-Romero, M., di Lego, V., Prskawetz, A., & L. Queiroz, B. (2021). An indirect method to monitor the fraction of people ever infected with COVID-19: An application to the United States. PLoS ONE 16 (1) e0245845. 10.1371/journal.pone.0245845.

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The number of COVID-19 infections is key for accurately monitoring the pandemics. However, due to differential testing policies, asymptomatic individuals and limited large-scale testing availability, it is challenging to detect all cases. Seroprevalence studies aim to address this gap by retrospectively assessing the number of infections, but they can be expensive and time-intensive, limiting their use to specific population subgroups. In this paper, we propose a complementary approach that combines estimated (1) infection fatality rates (IFR) using a Bayesian melding SEIR model with (2) reported case-fatality rates (CFR) in order to indirectly estimate the fraction of people ever infected (from the total population) and detected (from the ever infected). We apply the technique to the U.S. due to their remarkable regional diversity and because they count with almost a quarter of all global confirmed cases and deaths. We obtain that the IFR varies from 1.25% (0.39–2.16%, 90% CI) in Florida, the most aged population, to 0.69% in Utah (0.21–1.30%, 90% CI), the youngest population. By September 8, 2020, we estimate that at least five states have already a fraction of people ever infected between 10% and 20% (New Jersey, New York, Massachussets, Connecticut, and District of Columbia). The state with the highest estimated fraction of people ever infected is New Jersey with 17.3% (10.0, 55.8, 90% CI). Moreover, our results indicate that with a probability of 90 percent the fraction of detected people among the ever infected since the beginning of the epidemic has been less than 50% in 15 out of the 20 states analyzed in this paper. Our approach can be a valuable tool that complements seroprevalence studies and indicates how efficient have testing policies been since the beginning of the outbreak.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19
Research Programs: Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing (SHAW)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2021 10:21
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:34

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