The actual coronavirus infection in the world could be up to six times higher than the reported cases, according to a new study conducted by scientists from the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne.
The researchers said that COVID-19 infection rates between March and August across 15 countries, including UK, France, Italy, and Belgium were on an average 6.2 times higher than the reported cases.
As per the analysis by the researchers, more than 540,000 in the UK, about 8 per cent of the population, are or have been infected with the coronavirus.
"We found COVID-19 infections are much higher than confirmed cases across many countries, and this has important implications for both control and the probability of infection," said the study co-author Professor Quentin Grafton, from ANU.
In Australia, 0.48 per cent of the population, or up to 130,00 people, have been infected from coronavirus at the end of August, according to the researchers. That is much higher than the confirmed proportion of 0.10 per cent of the population, said Grafton.
According to professor Grafton, the research findings will raise serious questions about how to deal with all the facets of the coronavirus pandemic, including ongoing morbidity, and life-long health impacts for people who have been infected.
The scientists used "backcasting" analysis, a process that examines COVID-19 related fatalities and compares this with the time from infection to symptoms and time from symptoms to death. The authors state this method allows them to provide a 95 per cent confidence interval around their estimated true (population) infection rate.
"Our method is a novel and easy-to-use method for estimating the true infection rate wherever there is reliable data on the number of fatalities attributable to COVID-19," Steve Phipps from Ikigai Research said.
"Our approach is particularly advantageous in locations where there is little testing or limited capacity to forecast rates of infection but where there is a need, for the purposes of public health planning, for a population measure of COVID-19 infection," Grafton added.
According to John Hopkins University, a total of 5,68,34,187 people have got infected with coronavirus globally so far. As many as 13,59,599 people have died due to the virus.