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New COVID-19 strain found in UK: Should the public be concerned?

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 10:36 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Scientists are studying a new coronavirus strain that could be more contagious than others, following a discovery in the United Kingdom.

So far the variant has not been identified in the U.S. Experts said this variant is not a cause for concern at this time.

“I think people should take this to mean that viruses can sometimes be unpredictable,” Dr. Nasia Safdar, UW-Health medical director of infection control said. “It’s not the first time that a variant has occurred with this virus.”

Scientists said this strain of the virus is more contagious, spreading faster than other forms.

“Thus far, it doesn’t seem to translate into any additional adverse consequences,” Safdar said.

She said a number of strains have emerged over the last ten months and scientists are adapting and making changes as needed.

“I think that technology that’s now available will allow that to happen,” she said.

In a press conference Monday, Wisconsin Department of Health officials said the covid vaccine should be effective against the new strain.

“In terms of mutations of the virus, that’s something we’ll be watching,” Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, Wisconsin Department of Health Services said. “The basic composition of the virus, the spike protein is a part of the virus, and the way this virus is manufactured it will continue to be effective.”

Officials said it’s common for RNA viruses to mutate. It can be compared it to the flu.

”It mutates little by little which is why he have to get an annual vaccination,” Thomas Haupt, DHS Division of Public Health Research scientist and epidemiologist said.

Health officials said there are still unknowns about the coronavirus so treatments and medicine could change over time.

“This is the puzzle that a pandemic and a novel virus presents to us,” Van Dijk said.

Scientists are still studying and evaluating the variant of the virus to find the best way to combat it.

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