The study, which was conducted a month after China “contained the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic,” found an antibody prevalence rate of 4.43% for Covid-19 among residents in Wuhan, a metropolis of 11 million people. As of Sunday, Wuhan had reported a total of 50,354 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.
The study aimed to estimate the scale of past infections in a population by testing blood serum samples from a pool of people for coronavirus antibodies. Its findings are not taken to be final statistics of how many people in a given area have been exposed to the virus.
Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the study points to a problem of underreporting in infections during the height of the outbreak in Wuhan, partly due to the chaos at the time, and a failure to include asymptomatic cases in the official count of confirmed cases. Underreporting is a problem faced by health authorities in many countries, often due to a lack of capacity and resources. Antibody studies conducted by researchers in other parts of the world also show the virus was much more prevalent than official numbers suggest.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: When will the pandemic be over?
Even if they are, the vaccine isn’t a silver bullet. It’s likely that even when vaccination is widespread, we might still have to live with the virus. After all, only one virus in human history has been declared eradicated by a vaccine — smallpox.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Record US hospitalizations could force health experts to ration care
Amid the bad news, health experts say vaccinations need to be speeded up. So far, about 2.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the US and more than 11.4 million doses have been distributed as of Monday, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite these developments, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, said Monday that the US is falling behind countries like Israel and Canada in the pace of its vaccination efforts. “We really do have to ramp this up,” he said. “Things are in a crisis.”
UK back in the ‘eye of the storm’ as cases surge
In England, the tally of those hospitalized (20,246) is now higher than it was at the first peak of the pandemic in April (19,000). This is worse than the figure forecast by the British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal earlier in December, when they warned the government should reverse its decision to relax Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas.
South Africa tightens restrictions as new variant is detected abroad
Under the tightened restrictions, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are banned for 14 days, the nationwide curfew will be extended, alcohol sales will be banned, and wearing a mask will become a legal requirement — with non-adherence leading to fines or up to six months in prison.
“We have let down our guard, and unfortunately we are now paying the price,” Ramaphosa said. Both the UK and South Africa announced separate variants of Covid-19 this month, prompting a number of countries to ban flights and restrict visas from both countries — the latest being South Korea.
ON OUR RADAR
- Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is expected to receive her first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine live on camera from Washington, DC, on Tuesday. Her vaccination will come just over one week after President-elect Joe Biden received the shot.
- British tourists fled the Swiss ski resort of Verbier “clandestinely” under the cover of darkness rather than submit to a new quarantine imposed on UK visitors.
- The prolific Mexican composer and singer Armando Manzanero died Monday morning after battling Covid-19 for weeks.
- Biotech company Novavax — which announced the launch of a Phase 3 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the US on Monday — confirmed it is also testing its shot against the UK strain of coronavirus that appears to transmit more easily.
- When Covid first began spreading around the world, it seemed there was nowhere worse to be stuck than on board a cruise ship. From the unprecedented scramble for safe harbor to gigantic ghost ships, here’s how the world of cruising was turned on its head.
Why picking your nose is dangerous in the time of coronavirus
Not only are you spreading your own bacteria and viruses onto everything you touch after a bout of digging for gold — but you also “transfer germs from your fingertips into the nose, which is the exact opposite of what you want,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. That means that you can spread coronavirus to others from your nose-picking session, and you are also more likely to bring that virus, along with others like influenza or rhinovirus (the common cold), directly into your body.
“I can’t wait for the day when I no longer have to be on TV all day talking about the number of deaths due to Covid-19.” — CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta