A new study conducted by the Australian National University estimates that more than 71,000 Australians were infected with COVID-19 till July while this figure exceeds 60,000 more cases than the official reports. It suggests that there may be thousands of undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
This study investigated patients from ten hospitals located in four states of Australia. It was to determine if the patients contain antibodies that are a typical sign of coronavirus infection. Initially, only 41 COVID-19 patients were diagnosed positive which were later on adjusted for the potential false-positive results mainly because of the deficient antibody test.
It led the researchers to understand that there may be more false-positive tests and they found it to be 11 cases per 1000 tests conducted. It makes the false positive prevalence of these cases to be 0.28%.
Based on these results, researchers believe that there is some impaction in the diagnostic test system in Australian patients. It makes those who have contracted the virus yet undiagnosed to be around 71,000.
There are many things that may be involved in these flaws in the diagnostic system. In many countries that report low coronavirus incidence, the antibody test has to be more specific to make sure that no case is falsely reported positive. This point is even more important than trying to avoid false-negative tests.
A bigger sample of conducting these tests may improve the accuracy of these tests. When the sample size is small, the estimation to get accurate results to reduce which is why it may not be applicable to the entire population.
The testing method that is used to conduct these tests has not maximum accuracy. If this test is replaced with the commercially available antibody testing, the accuracy can be extended.
The question of the reliability of these tests is questionable as they can’t be generalized or the whole population. The studies only studied those people who were to go for the surgery. It is possible for these people to be at a higher risk of getting the virus which may not be true for the entire population.
The data on coronavirus cases didn’t explain if it has considered the variables for example age, area of residence, sex among others.
So how to be sure if there are undiagnosed COVID-19 cases in Australia or not. This study explains that without involving more people, concluding anything for the population not be reliable. But at least now, the information on coronavirus prevalence is much more clear than already available.
These findings do not suggest that the pandemic is over and there are no new cases of COVID-19 in Australia, mainly undiagnosed. Instead of looking for just the ‘face value’, what is needed more at this moment is more accurate and efficient antibody tests. This way the picture on the coronavirus cases will be much clearer.