CAPE TOWN – The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in ten people may have been infected with the Coronavirus.
In his address on Monday, WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said this leaves the vast majority of the world’s population vulnerable to the Covid-19 disease it causes.
“The disease continues to spread. It is on the rise in many parts of the world. Our current best estimates tell us that about 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus,” said Ryan.
The WHO estimate would amount to more than 760 million people based on the current world population of about 7.6 billion, which is more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases in the world tallied by both the WHO and Johns Hopkins University.
This leaves more than 90 percent of the population susceptible to the virus. Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly undershoots the true figure.
Although Ryan did not elaborate on how they reached the estimate. Dr Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said it was based on an average of antibody studies conducted around the world.
She said the estimated 90 percent of people remaining without infection means the virus has “opportunity” to spread further “if we don’t take action to stop it” such as by contact-tracing and tracking of cases by health officials.
Meanwhile, current data from WHO-Africa shows that the pandemic has largely affected a younger age group. Roughly 91 percent of Covid-19 infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among people under the age of 60, and more than 80% of cases are asymptomatic; far higher than the estimated proportion of asymptomatic cases from studies elsewhere in the world.
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