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Health

Effort To Track New Coronavirus Variants Speeds Up In Oklahoma

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Oklahoma will soon be learning about the coronavirus on an even deeper level, after the state got federal approval to study the virus DNA, which will help it track new variants.

During a vaccine update Thursday with Oklahoma health officials, State Epidemiologist Jared Taylor said the state’s ability to sequence the coronavirus genome has grown significantly.

Sequencing will help Oklahoma detect any new coronavirus variants, but Taylor says it has several other benefits.

"Whether that's our quarantine and isolation requirements, whether that's our vaccination recommendations, all sorts of relevant and important information can be derived from this," said Taylor.

Until now, Oklahoma could sequence the virus on a research basis only, and it had to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to process samples. That was much slower. Just about one tenth of one percent of positive samples were being tested.

Taylor said with this newly approved method, Oklahoma will test about 10 percent of positive samples.

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