I think it’s a given that there are more cases that have occurred than are reported. Certainly in the beginning there were more cases being reported anecdotally (the “I had all the symptoms but there wasn’t enough testing so the doctor told me to just get some rest”) than tests that existed.
Even now, we’re in the “the more you test, the more you find” mode simply because there are so many people that have been exposed that are asymptomatic. This feeds into the panic porn because you have one measure, the case count, that is continually going up.
Then you look at the other side. On the prison side, you had an entire freaking prison infected almost. The only reason we know this is because we tested everyone in prison regardless of symptom status. And the vast majority are carriers but are asymptomatic. (The quoted number from the article was 98%) Another, older article (https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/494670-ninety-six-percent-of-inmates-in-four-state-prisons-who-tested-positive) that doesn’t include the TN outbreaks shows 96% asymptomatic.
So then you have to look at the “why” of people getting tested — people who think they might have it. People who are feeling fine have little reason to get tested unless they know they’ve been exposed. Few people wake up in the morning feeling great have the though “lol, I’m going to get my brain poked with a swab today like I saw online.”
The antibody studies from CA (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/20/coronavirus-antibody-testing-shows-la-county-outbreak-is-up-to-55-times-bigger-than-reported-cases.html) show that this is somewhere in the range of 20x to 60x more prevalent than reported. (I’m linking one article, but I’ve seen multiple articles from multiple studies)
Now I think this makes a lot of sense. If you have 95% of people who’ve had it but didn’t get symptoms you’re undercounting 20x. (1/0.05) And this is the low end of the estimates.
To me all of this is lining up really well and isn’t getting into any conspiracy theory bullshittery. I’m not cherry-picking data. I’m using published numbers and showing my work.
So then, if you step back and look at the TN numbers (https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html) and do the math… (using numbers I’m pulling now)
264 deaths. 16110 cases * 20 (lower bound from antibody testing and prison numbers) = 322200.
264 / 322200 = 0.00082 or 0.082% IFR.
You can also use the the upper bound of the antibody testing and just divide that by another 3.
Now the reality of this is that it’s virulence is a lot higher than that of an average flu and it has a hobby of having bad outcomes for the elderly and people who aren’t that healthy so we still have to treat this seriously. We shouldn’t YOLO this.
What we can’t do is what NY, PA, and CA have done and force nursing homes to take in COVID19 positive residents. That’s doing nothing but concentrating the problem in the population that’s most affected.
So my takeaway from this is if you are in a group that’s more affected (old or already sick), please please please limit contact and for the love of God try to stay safe and isolated. If you regularly are dealing with those people then take extra precautions yourself.
For the average Joe or Jane, wash your hands and let’s start reopening. You don’t want to get sick, but this isn’t the end of the world.