The US topped 15 million cases of COVID-19 this week but that number is likely exponentially higher — by as much as seven times, a top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said on Thursday.
Aron Hall, co-lead of the agency’s epidemiology task force, offered the startling statistic during a virtual hearing over Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine.
“The total estimated number of infections is likely two to seven times greater than reported cases,” Hall said, adding that the evidence was based off seroprevalence surveys and models.
“Though less than 10 percent of population in most states had evidence of previous infection through September.”
On Tuesday, the country surpassed 15 million cases of coronavirus as infections and hospitalizations continue to soar into what officials are calling the darkest months of the pandemic.
More than 289,000 people have died from the virus.
Hall said the death toll is also likely higher.
“We do feel as with hospitalizations and illnesses that the reported number of deaths is likely an underestimate of the true number of deaths,” he said.
Hall gave an update on coronavirus statistics at the Federal Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee hearing, which is weighing whether to grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.