COVID-19 UK variant spreads in Tri-State

COVID-19 UK variant spreads in Tri-State

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Researchers at Deaconess are identifying more patients with the UK variant

23 cases of the probable variant COVID-19 cases have been identified at Deaconess Hospital since January 12. Five of those cases were confirmed to be the United Kingdom variant of the disease.

Variants occur when mutations happen in the virus’s genes.

As the virus continues to spread, more virus is created, which increases the chances of a variant emerging.

That ability to occur more frequently is why Dr. April Abbott, Director of Microbiology at Deaconess, says that it’s as important now as it’s ever been to wear masks and follow safety precautions.

”The best thing we can do to stop transmission and prohibit the virus from getting additional mutations is to get vaccinated and stop the spread,” Abbott said.

She said Deaconess was watching for variants to start appearing.

”We were looking for these because of information that we gleaned from others,” she explained.

According to Abbott, it was important to keep an eye out because variants can be more dangerous than the original COVID-19 virus.

She said that as the UK variant reproduces, it’s able to build up more viruses in a person’s body than the typical version of COVID-19 does.

”If you have more virus present, you’re more likely to have more virus that you put out into the environment,” explained Abbott.

According to Abbott, monitoring the occurrence of variant cases is necessary to help guide public health officials in determining how they need to respond to an outbreak.

”It may be an indicator as you start to see these take over in a population whether or not you’re going to have more patients that become infected, whether you’re going to have more patients to test, whether people are going to lose days at work, things like that,” Abbott said.

Deaconess pointed out that the UK variant is prevented by the current COVID-19 vaccines that are available, but there’s no way of predicting when an immune variant could appear.

That’s why Abbott stressed that it’s important to slow the transmission of the illness to prevent more variants from appearing.

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