BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - CDC officials are now reporting the more contagious UK COVID-19 variant is the dominant strain across the country.
Local health officials said if we don’t slow the variants down then we could risk another surge in cases.
“I promise you this, if we stop too soon then the virus will come back,” Children’s of Alabama Infectious disease expert Dr. David Kimberlin said. “Some of these variants have been predicted to be the primary virus strain that is out there. Sure enough, that’s what’s happened right now. The B117 variant, the U.K. variant, is the most prevalent strain in Florida for instance. Florida is right up against Alabama.”
As of April 8th 2021, there are 171 confirmed cases in Alabama. Health officials said there are likely more, we just don’t know because of a lack of testing. But, the state health department is working to increase testing for the strain.
“The variants are obviously the big unknown right now,” Kimberlin said. “That’s what we are in a race against. The virus is in a race with us and it is trying to find a way to survive. The way it survives is it modifies itself to become easier to infect additional people and maybe even make them more sick.”
Kimberlin said the way to win the race is with the vaccine.
“I think we have a bit of the upper hand because of the vaccine doses that are available,” he said. “But, if we don’t take advantage of that, the virus will overtake us and we are going to be right back in a really bad spot. Maybe not like where we were in January, but probably like November or something and that was plenty bad.”
All three authorized vaccines companies are working to make sure their product provides protection against the strain, but it’s still unknown if a specific variant booster shot is needed.
“We want this to all be over, but we are not there yet,” Kimberlin said.
There are also now cases of the South African variant in Alabama.