Johns Hopkins Professor Says Up To 500K Americans May Have Coronavirus Right Now

People in New York City wear masks.
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A professor at Johns Hopkins University said as many as 500,000 Americans could be infected with the coronavirus right now, a number vastly higher than current estimates, as health experts across the country struggle with an inability to test all suspected patients.

As Yahoo Finance reported, there are currently 135,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, across the world and more than 5,000 deaths. But Dr. Marty Makary, a medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, said that even his university’s own website, which is keeping the official count of cases in the United States, is vastly underestimating the impact.

“Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1,600 Americans have the virus,” Makary said. “No, that means 1,600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed.”

“I think we have between 50,000 and half a million cases right now walking around in the United States.”

The report noted that the United States has suffered a shortage of coronavirus testing kits from the CDC, with just 13,624 tests for the virus administered between January 18 and March 12. South Korea, which has a population just one-sixth the size of the United States, conducted more than 100,000 tests during that same time, the report noted.

Makary faulted the CDC for the poor reaction to the virus.

“The CDC did admit to a mistake in the rollout of the testing and let’s face it — they went with the wrong testing system,” Makary said. “It was an early decision. It lived deep within the CDC and they have acknowledged that mistake.”

Though health experts around the world have not reached a consensus on the true breadth of the pandemic, others have offered predictions more in line with Makary. As The Inquisitr reported, a Harvard University epidemiologist predicted that somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of the world would become infected with the novel coronavirus throughout the course of its spread.

Harvard professor Marc Lipsitch told The Atlantic that the disease will continue to spread, though he emphasized that the majority of cases would not be severe or life-threatening. Research has found that close to 15 percent of people who contract coronavirus do not have symptoms.

Lipsitch went on to predict that the coronavirus may never fully go away, but could instead become a seasonal illness along with the cold and flu. Health experts said it could be at last 18 months before a vaccine is finalized.