A research team from the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI says the number of Indiana residents who have been infected at some point with the novel coronavirus has reached 10.6% of the state’s population, up from 7.8% in early October.
Researchers have released the results of its third phase of a scientific study measuring the statewide prevalence of COVID-19.
In Phase 1, which was conducted in late April, the study found a general population prevalence of 2.8%.
“At an almost 11% population prevalence, we are very, very far away from the approximately 70% needed to achieve herd immunity,” said Nir Menachemi, lead scientist on the study. “Without a vaccine, if infections continue to rise in Indiana, so will the death toll.”
Menachemi says while deaths are generally rare for people under 30 or 40 years old, deaths are much more common in older age groups. But he says much of the blame goes to the younger people.
“We have evidence to suggest that an increase in infections among younger Hoosiers, quickly translates into more infections and thus deaths among older Hoosiers. This is exactly what’s happening right now,” said Menachemi.
The highest increase over the past month was registered in people aged 30 to 49 years old. It jumped from 11.7% to 16.5%. But for people over the age of 65, the number increased from 4.3% to 6.9%.
“As more younger people are becoming infected, the virus is being spread to older, more vulnerable groups of people,” said Menachemi. “While younger people are less likely to die from infection, they could be unknowingly spreading the infection to others who might be at higher risk.”
The study shows more than 40% of individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or show no signs of the disease.
The team further warns that without a vaccine, the death count could skyrocket across the Hoosier State.
“If the virus continued to spread unabated, over 13,000 Hoosiers would lose their lives, outside of nursing homes, to reach herd immunity of 70% infected. That is seven times more deaths than have occurred in Indiana outside of nursing homes and three times more than all deaths in the state,” said Menachemi.
A fourth phase of the study is planned for 2021.
To learn more about the prevalence study, click here to view a video from the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.
The full news conference can be viewed in the video below.