First Cases Of South African COVID Variant Being Tracked In Alabama

Two Cases Of COVID Variant With A Stronger Resistance To Vaccines Been Identified In Alabama.“I Wouldn’t Be Surprised If We Identified More.”

Two Cases Of A Variant With A Stronger Resistance To Vaccines Have Been Identified In Alabama.“I Wouldn’t Be Surprised If We Identified More.” The South African variant eludes vaccines more than other strains of the virus, but state health officials say that’s not enough to prevent immunity from the shot. “We still believe that the vaccine product we have will work against this variant,” said Landers.

The variant, first identified in the United States in January, was thought to be highly contagious but hasn’t spread as quickly as anticipated. “It showed up, but it hasn’t spread,” said Dr. William Schaffner professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. According to Dr. Schaffner, the variant appears to present a low risk, but should be closely tracked.

“We really do have to keep our eye on this character, this South African variant, because it’s a variant that is among the most different from the parent COVID strain, and our current vaccines provide only partial protection, we think.” In case they are needed, vaccine companies are developing booster shots against the South African variant.

Meanwhile, a dangerous strain of the virus is taking hold in Alabama. In early April, the UK variant made up about 40 percent of cases in Alabama. The strain is both deadlier and more contagious than the original virus. To better track variants, Dr. Landers said the state is ramping up its ability to sequence virus strains.

There have been roughly 200 breakthrough COVID-19 cases post-vaccination in Alabama, but so far variants haven’t been identified as the cause. That may be only a matter of time. “We’re really, really wanting people to be vaccinated,” said Landers, who acknowledged that demand for the vaccine in Alabama has declined in recent weeks. “It is really a race to get as many people vaccinated as possible before we have more transmission of the virus,” said Landers.

In some counties, there is now ample vaccine supply, but vaccination rates hover below 30 percent of the population, and the state still lags behind the nation in vaccination rates. Dr. Schaffner said it is unknown how the South African variant will behave going forward. He is urging people to continue social distancing and to take a vaccine. “If we don’t do those things, he said, “We give the variants more opportunities to spread.”

This news was originally published at AI.

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