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OU Expert Estimates Current Testing Leaves COVID-19 Cases Undercounted

University of Oklahoma

Oklahoma has surpassed 500 reported cases of COVID-19, but there’s general consensus there are many more people infected with the coronavirus.

OU Medicine Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Douglas Drevets estimates the actual number of cases may be around 5,000.

"There are studies from China suggesting that they only identified 15% of all the cases of infection in China, and that was using much more widespread testing than we have here in Oklahoma. So, I am guessing that we’re identifying one out of every 10," Drevets said.

Drevets said it’s going to take robust testing and more to get a handle on the coronavirus outbreak.

"And by 'robust testing,' I mean 10 to 100 times the capability that we have right now. This is not just in Oklahoma, but it’s also nationally. We also need effective drugs, and those are being worked on very rapidly. We need a good vaccine. That’s still a minimum of a year, year and a half out," Drevets said.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is more contagious than past pandemic viruses, and Drevets said it’s too soon to tell whether social distancing measures are halting its spread.

The most likely way for people to get the illness is close enough contact to inhale droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

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