Hundreds of COVID cases are reported daily, but it’s the undetected cases that worry scientist

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:25 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 8:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of COVID cases are reported in Hawaii daily. But there’s growing concern among scientists about the COVID cases going undetected.

They’re known as ‘silent’ cases — undetected with no symptoms and no tests.

UH COVID scientists with Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling (HiPAM) say Honolulu is still seeing unpredicted and exponential growth from the Delta variant.

They say transmission is beginning to stabilize on Hawaii Island, and Maui could be two weeks behind Hawaii County and Honolulu.

“We are estimating up to 15,000 active cases, so 2 to 3 times what is actually being reported,” said Monique Chyba, UH mathematics professor with HiPAM.

“We are on a very steep roller coaster right now up. We are in a large peak that is going to happen soon. It’s up,” she added.

Most of the reported cases and hospitalizations are unvaccinated people, but forecasts predict vaccinated people make up 66% of the silent, undetected cases on Oahu. Since they are less likely to have symptoms, mask wearing is still urged for everyone.

“We are all potentially silent carriers of the disease. We have to take responsibility and try to really take that peak on which we are now, then put it on a longer period and flatten it so we can handle it,” said Chyba.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green agrees thousands of cases are going undetected.

“What’s happening now is we are confirming an average of about 600 cases a day. I’ll be honest with you. I think that probably means there are about 3,000 cases a day that are occurring statewide,” said Green.

Green predicts fewer reported cases beginning in a week or ten days, but the UH scientists say Oahu and Hawaii island’s peaks could happen in October. However, scientists say small actions will make a big difference.

“Even a 5% increase in the fully vaccinated population can have a significant decrease in future transmissions so we can control the future outcome,” said Thomas Lee, UH epidemiologist, HiPAM Co-Chair.

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