A major challenge of the pandemic has been determining how many people have been infected with Covid-19. Along with having a shortage of tests for many months, a lot of patients are asymptomatic, meaning they never knew they had the virus.

However, thanks to a new study we’re getting a clear sense of how far reaching the virus has been. Researchers at Emory University conducted a national antibody study which was the largest of its kind. Their findings suggest, by the end of October 2020, over 39 million people, or one in eight Americans, had been infected with covid. By comparison, we were officially reporting just over 9 million infections at the end of October, a drastically lower estimation.

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Reaching herd immunity is critical to stopping the spread of Covid-19. That means around 80% of the population needs to have either been vaccinated fully or infected with the virus. This study suggests we might be closer to that point than we originally thought.

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