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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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More contagious coronavirus variant identified in UK is spreading rapidly throughout the US, study says

Ingham County Health officials provide COVID-19 update
Posted at 3:35 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 17:43:05-05

(WXYZ) — The very contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in the United Kingdom could be doubling here in the US every ten days. That’s according to a new study that also predicts B.1.1.7 will be the dominant strain by March.

This study is from a group of researchers from different institutions. And they collaborated together along with a lab testing company. What this study found, was that the UK variant B.1.1.7 was doubling in California every 12.2 days, doubling in Florida every 9.1 days, and doubling nationally every 9.8 days.

It’s really not that surprising to me because we know that this variant spreads faster. The study actually found this virus to be 35 to 45% more transmissible, which is slightly less than the 50% the CDC estimated. Regardless, the researchers gave a warning that everyone needs to pay attention to. They said if there is no “decisive and immediate public action” then we could face new surges in the near future. In just a few months, we could have “devastating consequences to COVID-19 mortality and morbidity.”

The lab that collaborated in this research has been tracking the UK variant and said the evidence shows it’s actually growing in case numbers. The labs here in the US are still only sequencing a small number of samples. Which is unfortunate and a bit scary. Because that means we really don’t have a true handle on what variants are here and spreading across our country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of our leading public health advisers, has indicated that we are not vaccinating people at a rate that would keep us one step ahead of the variants. But he also stressed that the vaccines should give people enough protection to stop them from getting seriously sick. It’s very important that people still get vaccinated as soon as they can.

Preliminary data from a clinical trial found that AstraZeneca’s vaccine provided minimal protection against the virus variant that’s dominating South Africa right now. I want to point out that it was a small study with only 2,000 people. The average age was 31 and most were in good health. The trial also didn’t look at hospitalizations or death rates to see if the vaccine had any impact.

Likely because the participants were young and considered low risk. So instead of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, South Africa plans to fast track Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine since it shows a higher efficacy rate against the variant there.

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