According to CDC data, this is the second variant discovered in Missouri. There were 35 cases of variant B.1.1.7, which was originally discovered in the UK.
JACKSON COUNTY, MO. – The Missouri Department of Health said the first confirmed case of COVID-19 variant B.1.351 had been identified in the state.
The B.1.351 variant, originally identified in South Africa in December 2020, was found in a sample of an adult in Jackson County. It was identified through total genome sequencing done by a commercial laboratory.
Jackson County is located in the western part of the state and includes parts of Kansas City.
According to the CDC, 386 cases of variant B.1.351 have been identified nationwide.
According to CDC data, this is the second variant found in Missouri. There were 35 cases of variant B.1.1.7, which was originally discovered in the UK.
According to the CDC, variants – including B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 – seem to spread easier and faster than other variants, which can lead to more cases of COVID-19.
Studies so far suggest that antibodies generated by vaccination with currently approved vaccines recognize these variants, according to the CDC. This is under investigation and further studies are ongoing.
“We continue to encourage preventive action as we identify more positive cases of these variants,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “We continue to urge individuals to get vaccinated if they are able. The vaccines currently available in the United States appear to be effective against these variant viruses. “
Scientists are getting better insight into COVID-19 variants and how the pressures are affecting communities around the world. They find that the new strains of the virus are easier to transmit and are bringing more young people to the hospital.
“A variant of COVID is basically the COVID-19 virus, which has changed itself because it has made more of itself over and over again,” explained Dr. Jason Newland, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University.
Reproducing and mutating is what viruses do. Dr. Newland said there is a 50/50 chance you will get a variant if you get COVID-19.
“At this point, we as patients will not know whether we have a variant or not,” said Dr. Newland told 5 On Your Side, adding that sequencing for COVID-19 strains is usually done at the state and national levels.
Doctors and researchers like Newland are concerned about the trends they are seeing in COVID-19 variants.
“They seem to be better at transmitting it. It doesn’t matter if you’re an older person, middle-aged person, young person, or a child, they’ll likely be better at transmitting it,” Newland said.
He added that B.1.1.7 – the variant first discovered in the UK – is most prevalent in the US, but other variants are most likely here as well. He has been monitoring the surges in Michigan and New York City and said variants are likely to be responsible for the surge in COVID-19 cases.
There is a way out of this pandemic, a Dr. Newland said we should run, not walk.
“It’s a race. It’s kind of a race for all of us to be vaccinated so we don’t see a version of a climb,” he said.
Variants may mean more COVID-19 vaccines later. So far, the vaccines currently available are against the current strains, but Dr. Newland said if a new variant becomes resistant, the doses can be adjusted quickly.
Pharmaceutical companies are used to tweaking vaccines to match the most urgent strains of the virus. Influenza is also mutating, which is why the flu vaccine changes every year.