COVID toll may be higher than thought, local experts find

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Researchers found millions of COVID cases may have gone unreported in the first two and half years of the pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, there have been more than half a billion COVID cases and more than 6 million deaths reported worldwide.

As staggering as that sounds, a new study, including research from a Medical College of Georgia professor, found the true number of COVID cases is very likely much higher than we realize.

“Back when the pandemic started, people were at home, and then some of them were not sure of about the symptoms,” said Dr. Arni Rao.

Testing was either non-existent or scarce.

He says math models suggest as few as one in five COVID cases may have been counted worldwide during the first 29 months of the pandemic.

The models estimate between 600 million and 2.4 billion cases may have been underreported.

“It’s important to know the magnitude of the true pandemic,” said Rao.

He says a lack of information and inconsistency in reporting cases has been a major problem with getting a real snapshot of the pandemic.

“Some of the individuals might not have gone to the clinic even for testing,” he said. “All of them sitting at home who got at home test kits may not go and report.”

Rao says these new findings will help push for some localized studies on the under-diagnosis of potentially long-term neurological and mental disorders related to COVID.

“We need these kinds of studies to help them have more insight into connecting populations that have been affected due to COVID but not reported,” he said.

If you’re interested in participating in any COVID studies, visit