VIRGINIA – Just as the vaccine had given the health care world a leg up in the battle against COVID-19, mutant strains of the virus have emerged.
“These newer variants have more changes and that’s why we’re starting to worry a little bit,” said Dr. Paul Skolnik, the chair of medicine at Carilion Clinic.
Skolnik said that viruses change all the time and coronaviruses mutate slowly, but three strains are causing concern: one from South Africa, one from Brazil and another from the United Kingdom.
According to the CDC, the UK strain has been found in at least 28 states, including one report in northern Virginia.
“Health care workers and I think folks in general, we are a little bit worried. We don’t know what a new variant could do,” said Dr. Christopher Lewis, Centra Health’s vice president of medical affairs.
Lewis said the question is whether or not these variant strains could be more infectious or more dangerous.
“There is some indication that some strains may be somewhat more infectious. We don’t frankly know how much yet. There’s a possibility that some of them make us sicker,” said Lewis.
“So far, we’ve not found a strain that is completely resistant to the vaccine,” said Lewis.
Both doctors said that now is not the time to give up, it’s time to fight back against the virus even harder.
“Take even more note of the precautions we already have in place: the mask-wearing, the handwashing, social distancing, avoiding large crowds,” said Skolnik. “Because once this gets hold, and especially if we discover it causes more severe disease, we’ve already lost the game.”
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