State Health Lab Needs More COVID-19 Tests To Sequence For Variants


Friday, July 2nd 2021, 4:23 pm
By: Erica Rankin


Health leaders in the state have called for more genomic sequencing, which is used to find variants of COVID-19. This comes as cases are on the rise largely due to the Delta variant.

"This is the variant that truly devastated India,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Health’s chief COVID-19 officer.

Bratzler said that the Delta variant has been tracked to Oklahoma, but doesn’t think we have a true picture of how much of it is here.

"A small number of cases have been identified in Oklahoma, but I don't think we are doing enough genomic sequencing to know," said Bratzler.

Sequencing in the state happens at the public health lab that is run by the state.

State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said they knew sequencing would need to ramp up.

"We actually put out a call to labs and hospitals to ask them to send any positive specimens they have,” said Stone.

Stone said it was tangent with low case counts, but now that those are on the rise, they hope they can step up to the challenge to sequence more.

"We're in the process of doing interviews to increase our staff, but we certainly do have staff that are available and running sequencing. We just need more specimens," said Stone.

Common symptoms of the Delta variant of COVID-19 are headache, sore throat, runny nose and fever.

Doctors ask that if you have COVID-19 that resembles the Delta variant, to get tested, so they can send those to be sequenced.