Health Desk- 08 Jan 2021: The number of people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, could be around three times the official figure, according to a study by Chinese researchers based in the city.
The paper, published by the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases journal on Thursday, analysed blood samples from more than 60,000 healthy individuals taken from locations across China from March to May 2020.
It found that 1.68% of those from Wuhan contained antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, compared to 0.59% in surrounding Hubei province and 0.38% in the rest of China.
With the city’s total population at more than 10 million, the researchers estimated that as many as 168,000 Wuhan residents were infected with the virus, compared to the official number of 50,340 hospitalised cases.
The study suggested at least two thirds of the total number were asymptomatic, and thousands could have been infected after the “elimination” of clinical cases, raising the possibility the virus could exist in a community for a long period without causing hospitalisations.