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WASHINGTON: The number of people in the US who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus is likely to be 10 times as higher than the over 2.4 million confirmed cases currently reported, the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

CDC Director Robert Redfield’s estimate, shared with reporters in a conference call on Thursday, was based on antibody tests, reports Xinhua news agency. It indicates that at least 24 million Americans have been infected so far.

The antibody tests examine a person’s blood for indicators that the immune system has mounted a response to an infection. Redfield said he believes 5 to 8 per cent of the population has been exposed so far. “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that we’ve recorded, there actually were 10 other infections,” he told the reporters.

According to Redfield, the significant majority of the American public, probably greater than 90 per cent of the American public, remains susceptible to a coronavirus infection. With 2,418,570 cases and 124,355 deaths, the US continued with the world’s highest number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities as of Friday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Case counts continued to surge to record levels in many states, including Texas, Alabama, Missouri and Nevada. The spike was a result of worsening conditions across much of the country, as well as increased testing.