Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Mainers are far less likely to have contracted COVID-19 than the typical American, new federal data show.
The latest estimates on how many Mainers have likely had the virus are based on blood testing that measures the share of people with antibodies from a past COVID-19 infection released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are based on testing primarily in the month of February.
About 35 percent of Mainers have likely contracted the virus, the data show, although estimates range from 28.5 percent to 42.4 percent. The data reflect far greater prevalence of the virus than measured by official case counts.
Maine has officially recorded 243,000 confirmed or probable positive cases since the start of the pandemic, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data, reflecting about 18 percent of the state’s population.
Nationwide, about 58 percent of Americans have now had COVID-19, the data show. State-level estimates range from just 29 percent in Vermont to nearly 71 percent in Iowa. Vermont is the only state to show a lower estimate than Maine, although three states did not provide enough samples to generate estimates. Other New England states continue to show rates below the U.S. average.
The antibody testing only measures whether someone has antibodies that indicate past COVID-19 infection, not the level of antibodies. It does not gauge whether someone may have been infected with the virus more than once, or if they may be susceptible to another infection due to low antibody levels.
The omicron coronavirus variant, which has accounted for nearly all new COVID-19 cases in Maine since mid-January, according to state data, has been shown to more easily reinfect people who previously contracted a different strain of the virus. But people already infected with omicron are less likely to contract one of its new subvants, a recent study found.