What are the real numbers that the public should be tracking about COVID-19?

Are we losing our minds with rapt attention to the test results? I noticed a headline today that stated one in twenty-two people in the United States has tested positive for COVID-19. What does that really mean?

Testing Reality

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/12/08/covid-news-britain-vaccine-wyoming-california-donald-trump/6481339002/ 15 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus. That is approximately one in twenty-two. I ask myself, how many of those are real cases?

Cases, before COVID-19 hit, were defined in the medical community as an instance of disease with its attendant circumstances. (https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/case). In other words, symptoms appeared, and the person was diagnosed with a disease and that became a medical case.
Asymptomatic people are being reported as having the virus even though they have no symptoms.

That is not the medical definition of a case. Yet, the totals include them. Cases imply that symptoms were diagnosed by a medical professional and are being treated accordingly.

A COVID-19 test was administered and a declaration of a ‘confirmed case’ of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected. Yet around 90% of those cases are not being actively treated by any medical authority. The newly infected people return to their homes and self-quarantine for two weeks regardless of whether symptoms ever develop. How many real cases are there?

Real Cases?

https://www.uchealth.org/today/the-truth-about-asymptomatic-spread-of-covid-19/#:~:text=Studies%20show%20that%20at%20least,of%20COVID%2D19. The percentage of asymptomatic people are thought to be around 50%. If that is true, then the real number of cases is one in forty-four, not one in twenty-two. Only 7.5 million Americans have coronavirus.

Yes, I will admit that an asymptomatic person can be a carrier and infect others. However, not all asymptomatic people are transmitters of coronavirus. How many are? Scientists do not know. Should people who self-quarantine be included in the ‘total cases’ of coronavirus? Possibly. They have positive tests for the virus. However, they require no hospital or doctors’ care.

To me, real cases are those treated by a physician or hospital. Those numbers are under ten percent of the total. They have symptoms and are recognized to need medical assistance. If those numbers were tracked, then probably one in two hundred and twenty, or 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 are real cases.

True Accuracy of Tests

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/which-test-is-best-for-covid-19-2020081020734 None of the tests used to detect SARS-CoV-2 has been approved by the FDA. Emergency use authorizations were granted for the tests. Vigorous testing and analyses vets testing protocols to determine the ability of a test to reliably detect a disease.

The tests are not accurate. The false-negatives and false-positives are not known with any precision. Collection, transportation, and storage of samples was a major problem at the beginning of testing. There are over 200 molecular tests, two antigen tests, and 37 antibody tests available today. There is no ‘gold’ standard for COVID-19 testing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457918/ is an excellent source for true percentages of detailed analyses of COVID-19 testing. There are multiple references to testing, accuracy, and concerns.

The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reviewed 816 articles. 130 of those articles underwent detailed full-text evaluation. 49 articles (studies) were reviewed in detail to determine the true accuracy of the SARS-CoV-2 real-time reverse polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test.

I picked the first two reviews of data. When the same test was given more than once to a person, three of eight study results showed an accuracy rate ranging from a bit over 50% to 88%. The other five of eight studies showed a range from just under 60% to almost 95%. These eight studies contained 36 to over 22,000 patients per study.

Another study reviewed showed the false-negative rate of zero percent after the first test to nearly 17% after the same test was administered a second time. The analyses were done based on results published from studies done specifically looking at the PCR testing which is the most prevalent test being done today.

Defining PCR Testing

https://discoverysedge.mayo.edu/2020/03/27/the-science-behind-the-test-for-the-covid-19-virus/ PCR testing is complicated. This link is for those who want to know how and what and why. After reading it a couple of times, it is understandable but gives me the feeling that there is a lot of guesswork as to the final result. I will let you form your own opinion about this test.

https://bpa-pathology.com/covid19-pcr-tests-are-scientifically-meaningless/ The inventor of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, Kary Mullis, earned a Nobel prize in chemistry in 1993. It is said that he did not believe the PCR test was appropriate for viral detection since DNA sequences had to be replicated millions of times to be able to detect a viral segment. That number of DNA replications has built-in problems as a diagnostic tool.


Do we really have 15 million coronavirus cases in the United States? Maybe? Probably? Who really knows? The tests are reasonably accurate but leave many questions regarding precision and reliability.

Changing the terminology for the word, case, to now be called, confirmed case, is a bit misleading to me. Is there better terminology? Probably. Should all people with the SARS-CoV-2 virus be included in the totals? Yes, they should, but it should be better understood. Being a patient in an ICU ward is not the same thing as an asymptomatic case lounging in front of his or her television.

We have the same problem with deaths from COVID-19 and deaths with COVID-19. Just as the reality of how many medical cases of coronavirus are under medical care, the authenticity of deaths from COVID-19 are probably a fraction of the total.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com



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