News & Politics

Study: Up to 442K People in LA Already Have COVID-19 Antibodies; Death Rate Much Lower Than Feared

Screenshot/KTLA

If you’ve watched the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings you know that serology testing (for antibodies) is the Holy Grail to learning the extent of the coronavirus, not to mention the immunity that comes from exposure.

Researchers from the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Health Department announced the results of the first stage of a multi-stage blood testing of 893 LA residents and found that as many as 442,000 are believed to have the antibodies to COVID-19. That means they were exposed to the virus and didn’t know it. More testing is required, but Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said in yesterday’s briefing that antibodies mean immunity 99% of the time.

What that means is more people will be freed from lockdowns and be able to go back to their normal lives. It also means that the death rate is much lower than feared.

KTLA reported that the ongoing testing will inform local officials on when things can go back to normal:

“A team from the University of Southern California and the county’s public health department tested a random sample of 863 county residents earlier this month, finding that around 2.8% to 5.6% of them already had the antibodies in their blood, the county’s public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced.

This translates to an estimated 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who may have been infected with COVID-19 at some point before April 9 — a much higher number than the 13,816 cases confirmed by the health department as of Monday.

It will give us an understanding of how many people out there maybe be infected and not even aware,” Dr. Paul Simon of L.A. County Public Health previously said. “If they are antibody positive, they will be able to more quickly resume their normal activities.”

A representative sample of around 1,000 randomly pre-selected people will be tested every two weeks to track the trajectory of the virus in the county, the university said.

Men were more likely to have been exposed than women.

Last week LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the death rate from the virus was over 4%, which is ridiculously high and didn’t take into consideration the hundreds of thousands of people who have already been exposed to and were asymptomatic as shown by this study.

This blood testing study shows that the death rate from the illness is far lower than originally believed. In LA County, 617 people have died from COVID-19.

The LA study mirrors one taken by Stanford University in Santa Clara last week which found that 2.5% and 4.2% of residents had antibodies by April.

Somebody should do a victory lap because this is good news. Keep it coming.

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