Brazilian scientists estimated the actual number of coronavirus cases in Brazil: 1.6 million. The data were released on Thursday (7) on the website “Covid-19 Brasil”, with 526 thousand infections being in the state of São Paulo.
The data from the Ministry of Health released until this Thursday point to 135,000 cases in the country, 12 times less than the estimate of the group of scientists. This underreporting is addressed by other experts and, based on data from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and records from regional agencies, the G1 reported that the real numbers of the disease are higher than those presented by the Federal Government.
According to the researchers who calculated this new estimate, the new number of 1.6 million cases could put Brazil as the new epicenter of the disease, since the United States has 1.2 million Covid-19 records and one larger population.
“It is known that there is a great underreporting of cases throughout Brazil, as only serious cases are being tested, of those who go to hospitals. But how much is this distortion of reality? The motivation of this study is, in some way, to contribute for planning the epidemic, because with this tremendous underreporting we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg “, says Domingos Alves, a member of the COVID-19 Brasil group and coordinator of the Health Intelligence Laboratory (LIS) of the Ribeirão Preto Medical School of University of São Paulo (USP).
The group of scientists that signs the work is in more than 10 Brazilian universities to monitor the epidemic using data science techniques. They point out that a number closer to reality would allow better planning against the disease.
“In order to have a real sense of the dimension, the ideal would be mass testing. As we do not have tests available for everyone, the estimates can serve as a basis for the management of containment measures, the need for new beds and the opening of field hospitals” , Alves says to Agência Fapesp.
How they arrived at the estimate
The researchers used data from South Korea, adjusted factors of Brazil’s age pyramid, percentage of comorbidities and risk factors for Covid-19 in the population. The number of deaths was also taken into account.
“Apparently, the number of deaths is a predictor for the number of cases. It is already known that the lethality rate in different countries is more or less fixed: 5.8% of the total cases,” said Alves.
The scientist says that the number of deaths in Brazil is also underreported, which may lead to an even higher estimate in the real cases in the country.
“In the midst of an epidemic, people die with symptoms of Covid-19, but they remain suspicious cases, as they have not been and will not be tested. In many cities it is already happening that people die at home, without receiving any care. underreporting of deaths. We work based on confirmed deaths only. ”