MORE than ten times more Americans may have contracted Covid-19 as the official tally of 5.5million, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency estimates the true toll may be far worse than previously understood, with up to 60 million people infected with the lethal and damaging coronavirus bug.
Currently the US is recording more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths each day with officially more than 174,000 people killed so far.
Thousands more who have recovered are struggling with long-term organ damage and other debilitating side-effects.
But the true number of those blighted by the bug could be much more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fears.
Director Robert Redfield has estimated as many as 18 per cent of the US population has already been infected with the coronavirus.
He said: "I think if you’re going to do a crude estimate, somewhere between 30 and 60 million people, but let’s let the data come out and see what it shows."
The CDC said last week that at least 40 per cent may not have shown symptoms and so risked unwittingly spreading it further.
It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) said the coronavirus pandemic could last for another two years at least.
Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus compared the virus to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which took "two years to stop".
The WHO has always been cautious about giving estimates on how quickly the pandemic can be dealt with while there is no proven vaccine.
But on Friday Tedros said the globalization allowed the virus to spread quicker than the Spanish flu did in 1918.
He added the world now has the technology to stop it which wasn’t around 102 years ago.
"And in our situation now with more technology, and of course with more connectiveness, the virus has a better chance of spreading, it can move fast because we are more connected now," he told a briefing in Geneva.
"But at the same time, we have also the technology to stop it and the knowledge to stop it.
"We hope to finish this pandemic (in) less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts."
Tedros urged countries to engage in "national unity" and "global solidarity".
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