DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — Recoveries from COVID-19 in the United States have now surpassed 2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Though the U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, it ranks third in overall recoveries.
Brazil has 3.1 million recoveries from its 3.8 million confirmed cases while India has 2.6 million recoveries out of 3.4 million cases.
From that perspective, the U.S.’s figures of 2.1 million recoveries out of nearly 6 million cases don’t look so good.
So why the big gap in recovery numbers for the U.S.? It boils down to disparities in reporting. Because there aren’t nationwide guidelines for reporting, recovery figures are all over the place.
California, which leads the nation in cases, has no recovery figures, according to Johns Hopkins data. The same is true for Florida and Illinois.
Meanwhile, Texas is reporting nearly 500,000 recoveries out of its more than 600,000 confirmed cases.
Johns Hopkins researchers acknowledged their recovery figures are “substantially lower than the true number” due to the discrepancies in data. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not reporting recoveries at the national level, states and local health departments have the flexibility to report recoveries if and how they wish.
One reason they aren’t always tracked is that there’s isn’t a clear definition of what a recovery looks like. While the CDC has guidelines for stopping self quaranteening, that doesn’t necessarily mean the patient has recovered.
CDC guidelines say a person must be free of a fever without the help of medication, show improvement in respiratory conditions and receive negative results from two separate tests performed at least 24 hours apart to be considered free of the virus.
As has been reported, many people who have had COVID-19 face long-term heath challenges.
“When you think of someone as having recovered from something, to most people, that means that they’re well,” said Dr. Beth Kassanoff, an internal medicine physician with North Texas Preferred Health in an interview with dallasnews.com. “And there can be some long-term significant health consequences from COVID, especially from people that have been hospitalized. Lung issues, kidney issues, some of those things can happen with COVID-19 and they might not be recovered from those at the time those 30 days are up, if that’s what the measure is.”
Some medical experts note the focus in the United States wasn’t put on recoveries because all resources were put into obtaining testing.
“People are recovering from this, absolutely,” said Casey Kelley of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in an interview with U.S. News & World Report. “They absolutely are, and most people will. We just don’t have the data because we don’t have the manpower to monitor that right now.”