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56% of infected don't know they have COVID-19

Experts have credited omicron's swift spread to both biological and social factors, from its greater transmissibility to a relaxation of social precautions.

But new research shows another insidious factor at work.

A new study in JAMA Network Open finds more than half of people infected with the omicron coronavirus variant may not know they have it.

The findings are based on two years of blood samples taken from employees of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Southern California as part of a longitudinal study of COVID-19.

Only 44% of those with coronavirus antibodies knew they were infected.

Of the rest, only 10% reported symptoms, which they wrote off as colds or similar illnesses.

Lack of awareness and a resulting absence of precautions can substantially bolster community transmission.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.