© Valery Sharifulin/TASS
The true number of US citizens who contracted the novel coronavirus last year could be five times higher than the official case count, the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, has said.
"At the end of last year, you may recall hearing news reports that the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States had topped 20 million. While that number came as truly sobering news, it also likely was an underestimate," the official said in his blog on the organization’s website. "Many cases went undetected due to limited testing early in the year and a large number of infections that produced mild or no symptoms," TASS reports.
In his words, a recent article published in the Nature journal offers a more comprehensive estimate that "puts the true number of infections by the end of 2020 at more than 100 million."
"That’s equal to just under a third of the U.S. population of 328 million," he continued. "This revised number shows just how rapidly this novel coronavirus spread through the country last year. It also brings home just how timely the vaccines have been—and continue to be in 2021—to protect our nation’s health in this time of pandemic."