As of February 2022, at least 58% of the US population had contracted COVID since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a study released Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), based on an antibody survey.
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That percentage equates to almost 190 million people in the United States, a number well in excess of the 80 million officially recorded cases, most of which are therefore undiagnosed, asymptomatic, or unregistered with authorities.
About 75% of the population under the age of 18 contracted the virus, according to the study, with a whopping spike in cases — particularly among children — during last winter’s Omicron variant wave.
The nationwide survey looked for antibodies against the nucleocapsid protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which the immune system only makes in response to contamination.
Current vaccines train the immune system to form antibodies against the spike protein.
From September 2021 to January 2022, the study examined nearly 75,000 blood samples across the country each month, as well as 45,000 in February.
The researchers then produced national estimates using statistical methods to weight age, gender and geographic distribution.
“We did not examine whether people had a level of antibodies from previous (COVID) infection that was sufficient to provide protection against reinfection or development of a severe form of the disease,” said Kristie Clarke, co-leads the national COVID-19 serology task force during a conference call with reporters.
“Previous infection has been found to offer some protection against serious illness and hospitalization – and vaccination, either before or after infection, offers additional protection,” she added.
It remains important to stay current with your vaccination against COVID-19, stressed Kristie Clarke.
The United States is currently offering a fourth dose of the vaccine to those age 50 and older and a third dose to those under that age.
Children under the age of five are the only ones who cannot yet be vaccinated.
The number of cases is increasing nationwide due to the subvariants Omicron BA.2 and BA.2.12.1.
Despite rising hospital admissions, the number of deaths continues to fall and is currently close to 300 a day. The United States is expected to officially hit the symbolic one million death mark in the coming weeks.