Investigating the Dark Figure of COVID-19 Cases in Austria: Borrowing From the Decode Genetics Study in Iceland
The number of undetected cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections is expected to be a multiple
of the reported figures mainly due to the high ratio of asymptomatic infections and to
limited availability of trustworthy testing resources. Relying on the deCODE study in
Iceland, which offers large scale testing among the general population, we investigate the
magnitude and uncertainty of the number of undetected cases COVID-19 cases in Austria.
We formulate several scenarios relying on data on the number of COVID-19 cases which
have been hospitalized, in intensive care, as well as on the number of deaths and positive
tests in Iceland and Austria. We employ frequentist and Bayesian methods for estimating
the dark figure in Austria based on the hypothesized scenarios and for accounting for the
uncertainty surrounding this figure.
Using data available on April 1, 2020, our study contains two main findings: First, we
find the estimated number of infections to be on average around 8.35 times higher than
the recorded number of infections. Second, the width of the uncertainty bounds associated
with this figure depends highly on the statistical method employed. At a 95% level, lower
bounds range from 3.96 to 6.83 and upper bounds range from 9.82 to 12.61. Overall, our
findings confirm the need for systematic tests in the general population of Austria.
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