Coronavirus nearly 7 times more widespread in Orange County than reported, study shows

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The number of COVID-19 infections in Orange County may be nearly seven times higher than previously thought, a new antibody study shows.

While the screening, a collaborative effort between UC Irvine and the OC Health Care Agency, demonstrates that the coronavirus may be far more widespread — though less deadly — than official numbers indicate, researchers said more work is needed to understand the level of protection that antibodies provide and how best to address disparities in how the virus affects different populations.

“Our study demonstrates that, while a significant number of O.C. residents were already exposed and developed antibodies to COVID-19, much of the county still remains vulnerable to the virus,” Bernadette Boden-Albala, director of the university’s Program in Public Health, said in a statement. “For researchers, there is a lot more work to be done.”

From July 10 to Aug. 16, nearly 3,000 county residents were tested for an array of coronavirus antibodies, which are produced as part of the body’s natural immune response to a virus.

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