Estimating the Fraction of Unreported Infections in Epidemics with a Known Epicenter: An Application to Covid-19

40 Pages Posted: 1 May 2020 Last revised: 27 Jun 2021

See all articles by Ali Hortaçsu

Ali Hortaçsu

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jiarui Liu

University of Chicago

Timothy Schwieg

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

We develop an analytically tractable method to estimate the fraction of unreported infections in epidemics with a known epicenter and estimate the number of unreported COVID-19 infections in the US during the first half of March 2020. Our method utilizes the covariation in initial reported infections across US regions and the number of travelers to these regions from the epicenter, along with the results of an early randomized testing study in Iceland. Using our estimates of the number of unreported infections, which are substantially larger than the number of reported infections, we also provide estimates for the infection fatality rate using data on reported COVID-19 fatalities from U.S. counties.

Suggested Citation

Hortaçsu, Ali and Liu, Jiarui and Schwieg, Timothy, Estimating the Fraction of Unreported Infections in Epidemics with a Known Epicenter: An Application to Covid-19 (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27028, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3588150

Ali Hortaçsu (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Jiarui Liu

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Timothy Schwieg

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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