About 25% of New Yorkers are probably already infected with the coronavirus, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner for Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Tuesday.
Researchers at Mount Sinai Health System in New York published a study on mondayThis suggests that 19.3% of the city’s inhabitants were already exposed to the virus before April 19th.
Even if so many people have antibodies to Covid-19 in New York, the initial outbreak in the United States, the researchers noted that it would still be well below the estimated 67% needed to achieve herd immunity – which is necessary to provide the general public with broad protection against the virus. The study has not yet been reviewed and accepted by the official medical journal for publication.
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that about 0.7% of all virus infected in New York died from Covid-19. However, Gottlieb said the infection mortality rate, which is a factor in asymptomatic patients who never have symptoms, has probably risen since mid-April.
“If you probably still did this, you did a seroprevalence study, you probably would have noticed that the death rate from infections is slightly higher, because from April to the present, more and more people have died from the infection,” said he. said on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “And you will probably see that seroprevalence is a little higher because more people are getting infected, so I guess about 25% of New Yorkers are now infected with Covid.”
Mortality from infections is probably lower than mortality from cases, which takes into account the percentage of people who have symptoms and who ultimately die. Gottlieb said the mortality rate could be closer to 1.1% or 1.2%.
According to Gottlieb, the results of the study are consistent with what other researchers have found, including New York researchers who have conducted their own seroprevalence study, which helps build confidence in such studies.
“We can begin to believe that this is probably a rough idea of the real result,” he said.
The relationship between the presence of antibodies and immunity against coronavirus remains unclear. The authors of the study noted that previous studies of other coronaviruses have shown that antibodies confer immunity. However, health officials, including Gottlieb and White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned that the level and duration of immunity provided by antibodies is still unclear.
The researchers said the antibody test used in the study has a sensitivity level of 95%, which means that it detects positive cases in 95% of cases, and specificity is 100%, which means that it accurately reflects negative cases in 100% of cases . This means that tests can give a false negative result, but not a false positive antibody test. All tests were analyzed in a research laboratory. The patient sample used to determine the prevalence of the virus in the general population was composed of patients presented on Mt. Sinai for a regular medical procedure or check that is not related to Covid-19.
The authors of the Mount Sinai study recognized some factors that could affect the sample of their population as a whole, but said that “nevertheless, this gives an idea of the degree of seroprevalence in New York.” The study was partially funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Innovative Influenza Vaccine Centers, the JPB Foundation and other donors.
Since April, New York City and the three-state region have been able to significantly reduce prevalence, which means that “seroprevalence is unlikely to change significantly unless new infections increase again or vaccines become available,” the researchers say.