(WXYZ) — COVID-19 variants could explain the current surge of cases Michigan is experiencing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with 7 Action News.
Three months ago, the B.1.1.7 variant was identified in Michigan. As of March 31, 1,468 cases of B.1.1.7 variant infections have been identified in 51 Michigan jurisdictions.
Additionally, seven cases of B.1.135 variant infections were found in six Michigan jurisdictions. There are also five cases of the B. 1.351 variant, first identified in a child in Jackson County.
On Thursday, the state identified its first case of the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil, in Bay County.
"The variants have a number of characteristics that are of concerns," Dr. Fauci said. "Some of them, like the 1.1.7 and very likely the P.1, have the capability of spreading more readily from person to person, which could explain in part and maybe largely the reason why you're seeing that surge in Michigan."
Dr. Fauci said that the more people get vaccinated on a daily basis, the better the state will be in preventing a bigger surge.
"It's a race between getting people vaccinated and preventing the surge of cases," he said.
Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said it is now even more important for Michiganders to continue following health precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
"We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible," she said in a press release.
Dr. Fauci echoed her concerns, saying Michiganders should not declare victory prematurely.
Over the past few weeks, Michigan has seen a huge increase in COVID-19 cases, with more than 6,000 new cases in a single day announced Wednesday, the highest number of new cases in months.
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