There have now been more than 20 million cases of the novel coronavirus cases reported worldwide, according to public health data compiled for 188 countries and regions by Johns Hopkins University.
The global number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus — doubled in approximately six weeks, after surpassing the 10-million mark on June 28.
That 20-million figure is likely a “real underestimate” of the true number of infections to date, according to Dr. Anna Banerji, a paediatric infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the University of Toronto’s school of public health.
“I think the true number is probably five, maybe even 10 times higher than the actual number of cases,” Banerji said.
With more than five million cases, the United States accounts for about a quarter of the total cases worldwide, representing the largest number of infections in any country.
More than three million cases have been reported to date in Brazil, according to the Johns Hopkins data available online.
India has the third-highest number, with just over 2.2 million cases. Since mid-June, the country has averaged around 50,000 new infections daily. More recently, India recorded more than 60,000 cases of COVID-19 daily over the last four days and more infections that any other country in the world for the last six consecutive days.
“People aren’t going into hospitals to get tested,” she said. “First of all, it’s expensive for them, potentially, and there are a lot of other things out there like malaria, typhoid, dengue, etc., so they may think this is just one of those other common infections.
“And if people are dying in the rural areas, in some of these less-resourced countries, you may not know what they’re dying from.”
But even in more resource-rich countries — like Canada and the United States — cases are likely still unreported for other reasons, Banerji added. In the U.S., some states and communities are “overwhelmed” or people may not have health care coverage for the test, she said.