Jefferson County May Have Had Double The Known COVID Infections For A Period In August, UofL Study Finds

Tracking and tracing COVID infections has been a perpetual struggle throughout the pandemic, as the range of symptoms greatly varies, but the latest round of data from the Co-Immunity Project at UofL suggests about twice the amount of people were infected in Jefferson County during a week in August than verified and counted. 

Conducted by the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, from Aug. 25 through Sept. 1, 3,000 Jefferson Count residents were tested for the Co-Immunity Project — 1.1% of all the participants tested positive. Scaled up, that equates to 7,260 active infections in the county, around double the amount that were known and publicly reported. Participants were also tested for antibodies, and around 16% of the participants had natural infection antibodies that suggested they were infected by the virus in the recent past. Scaled up, that data indicted that as many as 100,000 adults in the county could have had COVID in the past few months. For a comparison, the Louisville health department recorded only 14,594 new cases from June 5 to Aug. 28

Courtesy of UofL

“These results highlight the steep rise in coronavirus infections in our community and provide a startling snapshot of the current state of the pandemic,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, director of the Envirome Institute. “Our estimates suggest that the number of infected individuals may be twice as high as that indicated in public records.

“Our work shows the vaccine is working as intended,” Bhatnagar continued. “Our population was almost 90% vaccinated, much higher than the 64% of fully vaccinated county residents. In the entire cohort, vaccinated people were over 12 times less likely to be infected compared with unvaccinated people. Though in our volunteer group, 65% of the active infections were in fully vaccinated individuals who had received the vaccine earlier this year. Most reported no or mild allergy-like symptoms and did not recognize that it may be a COVID infection thus did not think they needed to get tested.”

The team collected samples at 13 locations across Jefferson County.

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