What to know about the new variant of the COVID-19 virus

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — At this time, everyone is still learning new information about the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7.

Dr. Scott Milton, Texas Tech Physicians Infectious Disease Physician, shared “I think what we know about the new variants is that they seem to be more contagious.”

In addition to B.1.1.7, the UK COVID-19 variant, Dr. Milton shared that he believes there is also an additional variant in South Africa that may not be as easily treated.

He said, “I think that there’s also a variant in South Africa, called the South African variant that may not be as easily treated. In other words, there’s these drugs called these monoclonal antibodies that we give like that VAMP drug and there’s some evidence to suggest that that variant may not respond to treatment, as well.”

However, as of right now, Dr. Milton explained that the South African variant is mainly just in South Africa and possibly South America.

As for the UK COVID-19 variant, Thursday marked the first day that B.1.1.7 has been reported in the state of Texas, in Harris County.

“At least five to ten states now are starting to see this new variant. I’m certain that if it’s something that’s more contagious, you know, it’s gotta be out there. It’s just a matter of doing the surveillance to find it,” said Dr. Milton.

While this variant is more contagious, there is some good news.

Dr. Milton stated, “There’s been no evidence that it causes more severe disease. It’s just that it seems to spread more easily.”

Additionally, seeing a mutation of the original virus, though, does not come as a surprise.

“With these, you know if you think about influenza, those mutations are every year with influenza, so it’s not really unexpected when you have such widespread huge pandemic numbers like this that you’re going to get mutations and you’re going to get variants,” explained Dr. Milton.

Dr. Milton believes that this is yet another reason for people to receive the vaccination.

“In the future, we’re going to continue to see cases of COVID. We’ll see cases of COVID a year from now, but what we hope is that we’re going to have enough people vaccinated that it’s going to be much more manageable and we’re not going to have near the complications and not have near the deaths,” he said.

While the general public waits to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Milton recommends for everyone to continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

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