Leading epidemiologist Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University estimates that about 150-300 million or more people have already been infected by COVID-19 around the world, far more than the 10 million documented cases.
In an interview with Greek Reporter, the Greek American scientist warns, however, that the draconian lockdowns imposed in many countries may have the opposite effect of what was intended. “Globally, the lockdown measures have increased the number of people at risk of starvation to 1.1 billion, and they are putting at risk millions of lives,” he says.
It was just three months ago, soon after the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, when Dr. Ioannidis wrote an article for the journal STAT excoriating the US and other countries for not conducting enough testing, and deploring how little real evidence there was of true infection rates, which he feared might soar and create widespread societal unrest.
Now, after the world has experienced approximately 490,000 deaths from the virus, Greek Reporter contacted Dr. Ioannidis to ask the professor for his opinion on several points he made in his March 17th article, and what he has observed in the fight against the virus as it has progressed around the globe.
Greek Reporter: You stated at that time, when everything seemed so very uncertain, that the evidence at that point for the number of actual infections was “utterly unreliable” and that the “vast majority” of infections were being missed. How do you think the US and other countries have progressed since then in pinning down the actual numbers of those suffering from the virus? You had said at that time “no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative, random sample of the general population.” Do you still believe that is true? Which countries have performed the best in this regard?
Dr. Ioannidis: We have learned a lot within a short period of time about the prevalence of the infection worldwide. There are already more than 50 studies that have presented results on how many people in different countries and locations have developed antibodies to the virus. These numbers are anywhere between 5 times (e.g.