While a vaccine to combat the spread of the coronavirus remains months away from approval, taking the proper precautions at home can reduce virus transmission by nearly 50 percent, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Joining "Fox & Friends Sunday," Oz answered many of the questions surrounding the novel outbreak, emphasizing the importance of handwashing and social distancing after reports on Sunday estimated the number of infected cases in the U.S. surged to nearly 3,000 nationwide – up from the less than 500 cases recorded in the country at the start of the week.
"Washing your hands alone is probably a 50 percent reduction in virus transmission," Oz said. "It’s a DIY vaccine ... it's that powerful ... that’s the best way to stay out of it ... but," he emphasized, "the most important thing is social distancing."
"Washing your hands alone is probably a 50% reduction in virus transmission."
The surge of cases throughout the United States and around the world has brought countries to a practical standstill. While countries like Italy, Spain and China have declared complete lockdowns in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, life in the United States also has dramatically changed in just a week.
From work to entertainment to even worship, several aspects of American life have been reordered as health officials encourage the public to carry out "social distancing" to prevent the spread of the infection.
As employers switch to telecommuting, Broadway shows go dark and sporting events are postponed, health officials are hoping to stagger the surge in U.S. cases, explained Oz.
"What we do hope is that over the course of the next two weeks, the initiatives that you saw the countrywide this past week will take effect. It takes about that long for public safety initiatives to make a difference and when we start to see a slowing of that curve, sort of begins to level out of new cases ... that’s what we’re looking for," he said.
Oz continued, "that’s what happened in China – if you look at the Chinese data outside Wuhan, as soon as they imposed the largest embargo quarantine ever, in history, they quickly slowed the growth outside the Wuhan province and to this day it stayed low."
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated it would take 18 months to develop a vaccine, but some are calling on technology companies to develop a "digital vaccine" to provide necessary data, for the time being, explained Oz.
"We actually want to make right now a digital vaccine. We want to use some of these tech companies with remarkable assets to build tools to say 'OK, exactly where is the risk ... not like in New York City but exactly what street in New York City is a problem,"' Oz said.
"America is the leading technology country in the world," he went on. "These companies already have a lot of assets ... they don’t have to build brand new stuff ... merge their skillsets [with] companies that are already doing this, Facebook already knows a lot about your behavior online and social space, align that up with your behavior when you get coronavirus and now you can predict the way you're behaving ... 'I think you might have coronavirus and here are the three reasons why...'"
The global pandemic comes during a U.S. presidential election year – as primaries face cancellations in some states not willing to bring voters to the polls amid the outbreak.
"[If] they can tell us exactly whose going to vote for who and how to target them, they can definitely tell us who's at risk for getting coronavirus," Oz said.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.