Top Iranian health officials say 15 million Iranians may have been infected with COVID-19, or one fifth of the population.
“About 15 million Iranians may have been infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the epidemic,” said Ehsan Mostafavi, a health official with Iran’s COVID-19 response task force.
“This means that COVID-19 is far less lethal than we or the world had expected,” the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Mostafavi as saying.
Mostafavi’s statement came a week after Iran became the first country in the world to report the second wave of COVID-19 after easing restrictions.
Mostafavi said the data was collected from serological tests, performed on a sample group to find out how many people had antibodies in the blood.
Officials found that 18.75% had antibodies, indicating they were infected with the virus and recovered. When scaled up, the results showed that 18.75% of the Iranian population may have been infected with COVID-19, 1 in 5.
These serological tests are different from the polymerise chain reaction test (PCR), which is used to detect whether an individual has antigen or not.
Iran says it has performed more than 1 million PCR tests to confirm COVID-19 infections.
Ministry of Health spokesman Sima Sadat Lari said 74 deaths in the past 12 hours brought the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Iran to 8,425. New infections increased by 2,095, to a total of 175,927.
Iran was the first country in the world to report a second wave of COVID-19 on June 3.6, recording 3,574 new cases, surpassing the previous worst day of 3,186 cases recorded in April.
Iranian health officials argued that the second wave was the result of better data checking and recording, following doubts about the accuracy of Iranian data when the disease first broke out.