Rather than focus on the number of cases of coronavirus, why won’t the media spend more time focusing on the fact that so few of them are serious and that we have overreacted to the virus since March? We are seeing a lot of cases, but very few hospitalizations, as shown in the latest test results from a meatpacking plant.
“Hundreds test positive at Tyson Foods plant in Arkansas” was the headline of an AP article on Sunday. That will naturally alarm the public. However, the real headline is that although 13% of all Tyson Foods employees in Benton and Washington counties tested positive, 95% of them had no symptoms. Twenty-six of the 481 who tested positive did present some symptoms. In the Berry Street facility, which had the largest number of cases out of the six facilities, 223 of 227 who tested positive were asymptomatic.
The media and political elites refuse to report the good news that the models were off, the virus was always more prevalent then we thought, and therefore, it’s much less deadly than we thought. They continue to use the discovery of more cases as a pretext for more draconian shutdowns and restrictions, as if this is still the virus with a 3.4% fatality rate that the World Health Organization predicted.
When the CDC estimated that the infection fatality rate was 0.26%, that was factoring in a 35% asymptomatic rate. But what if the virus is even more prevalent than that because the share of asymptomatics is even higher? Some estimate the number to be at 80%. An Italian study found that 70% of those under the age of 60 were asymptomatic.
Given that the majority of people who get the virus are asymptomatic, we can no longer assume that even the serology tests are capturing anywhere near the full number of people who already got the virus, because many who had the virus test negative for antibodies. Earlier this month, a study from the University of California found, “Growing evidence suggests that asymptomatic and mild SARS-CoV-2 infections, together comprising >95% of all infections, may be associated with lower antibody titers than severe infections.” They estimate that only 40% of asymptomatic patients would retain antibodies for 180 days, 60% of mildly symptomatic, and 95% of severe cases.
Another study from China published at Nature Medicine estimates that “40% of asymptomatic individuals became seronegative and 12.9% of the symptomatic group became negative for IgG in the early convalescent phase.” A study from the University of Zurich found a close relationship between the severity of the viral infection and the number of antibodies produced during the convalescent period of that patient. The level of antibodies seemed to correlate nearly perfectly commensurately to the severity of symptoms prior to recovery.
Thus, an unknown percentage of those who show up negative in serology tests likely had the virus but no longer present with antibodies. This is aside from the theory that some people who don’t present with symptoms never produced antibodies because T cells and B cells from the immune system warded off the virus. A brand-new study from Strasbourg University Hospital in France found that a majority of mildly symptomatic patients studied warded off the virus with T cells and did not produce antibodies. The researchers therefore conclude that “epidemiological data relying only on the detection of SARS-Cov2 antibodies may lead to substantial underestimation of prior exposure to the virus.”
While it is unclear whether these individuals remain immune to a secondary infection if they don’t have antibodies, what is clear is that exponentially more people likely had the infection. Which in turn means that the fatality rate is even lower than we think. Thus, the next time you see the media reporting on discovery of more cases without accompanying data on ICUs and fatalities, just know that their report is proving the opposite of their panic-driven headlines.