A state survey of nearly three thousand people found that 13.9 percent had antibodies to the disease, which means they were exposed to the virus, Governor Andrew Como said at his daily press conference.
In New York City, about 21 percent of those examined had antibodies.
Como warned that the data is preliminary. While the sample of the people examined was small and the tests were conducted on people at shopping malls and grocery stores, this means they were healthy enough to get out.
Experts also say the presence of antibodies is not necessarily evidence that someone is immune to the virus.
But Como said that knowing how many people had antibodies could help set a policy when parts of the state were reopened.
It is estimated that about one million people in New York City may have been exposed to the Corona virus, the city’s health commissioner said Thursday.
More than 263,000 people in the state have been infected with the virus, “but the truth is that this is only the edge of the iceberg,” said Dr. Osiris Barbot.
She noted that the city continues to inform people suspected of being infected with the virus but who are not seriously ill with the disease, that they do not need to undergo a test, so the true number of patients is unknown.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we currently have nearly a million New Yorkers who have been exposed to Covid-19.”
At the beginning of the outbreak, health officials estimated that up to half of the city’s population would be infected with the virus. Mayor Bill de Palacio said that this was still possible, but the lack of a comprehensive and extensive examination made it more difficult to confirm.
“We are still dealing with the largest unknown in the absence of the examination. We do not even know one hundred percent when the first cases appeared in the city because we did not conduct tests in February. We know it was February, but we do not know how many people were infected at the time.”
Blood tests in search of antibodies and immune system materials to fight the virus are expected to allow officials a better understanding of how people contract the virus with little or no symptoms.
But such checks need to be done with a random sample, ensuring that the people being examined represent geographic, social, ethnic, and other elements. There are also questions about the accuracy of the blood tests used. Scientists have found that some of them are unreliable.
De Blasio said that “in an ideal world”, hundreds of thousands of people are examined daily in the city.
He explained that the city needs the help of the federal government to reach that level of examination, but it is trying to build an examination capacity, and it may reach 20 thousand to 30 thousand tests per day by next month.