Can antibody tests help end the coronavirus pandemic?

“I just don’t see any way to put a silver lining on any of these results,” said Carl Bergstrom, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. “I think that the efforts to spin it that way are irresponsible.”

If one in five residents in hard-hit New York City has been exposed to the virus, he and others said, then four in five are still vulnerable — and that underscores how far we are from the pandemic’s end.

New York’s results suggested a death rate of between 0.5 and 1 percent, figures some conservative commentators have argued is too low to justify statewide lockdowns.

Public health experts like Dr. Bergstrom took the opposite view. “If the mortality rate is 1 percent, we’re looking at 2 million deaths, which is unprecedented in our nation’s history and unimaginable,” he said.