ADPH sending COVID-19 specimen to CDC for mutant strain sequencing

Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 9:57 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new and more contagious strain of COVID-19 is already in nearby states and health officials said it’s only a matter of time before it is diagnosed in Alabama.

The CDC reports the new COVID-19 variant from the U.K. is up to 50% more infectious, meaning it spreads easier and faster.

Asst. State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said the state is working to know when the new COVID-19 variant is in Alabama.

The state is sending a number of specimen to the CDC for sequencing. She said that is where researchers look at the genetic code of a sample to see if it has the mutated virus in it.

Landers said it is important to know when the strain is in Alabama, so those individuals can quarantine and be contacted traced. She said once the mutated virus gets here, case numbers and hospitalizations will likely increase.

“It’s not something that we want to have happen,” Dr. Landers said. “This can drive us further and further into the direction of compromising our already strained healthcare system.”

Dr. Landers said the current COVID-19 vaccines are still effective in treating this second strain and it does not change the state’s vaccination plan.

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