Number of Covid-19 Cases Is Seven Times Higher, Estimates First Large Study in Brazil

Study estimates about 5,650 people probably have the antibody to the disease in Rio Grande do Sul

São Paulo

The first Brazilian study of the spread of the coronavirus infection showed that the number of infected people is at least seven times greater than that officially registered.

Approximately 0.05% of Rio Grande do Sul’s population must be contaminated, according to tests carried out on a sample of 4,189 people from Rio Grande do Sul, which has about 11.3 million inhabitants.

Thus, the number of people who would have already been infected and developed antibodies would be 5,650. Government records show that Rio Grande do Sul has 747 cases, but the government only tests the most severe and symptomatic cases.

Gramado city, in RS Foto: Marcos Nagelstein/Folhapress - Marcos Nagelstein

The first “official” case from Rio Grande do Sul was registered on March 9, 12 days after the first Brazilian case, from São Paulo. The underreporting rate may be higher.

The research project, Epicovid19, is coordinated by the Federal University of Pelotas (Ufpel) and the state government. Researchers went to the randomly selected houses and collected a blood sample from one of the residents, between 11 and 13 April.

Another three rounds of research will be carried out, one per fortnight, in order to record the evolution of the disease. Next week, a national test begins, also coordinated by Ufpel. About 33,000 people will be tested every two weeks.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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