Local doctor expects more COVID-19 variants to form

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Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As the Delta variant continues to increase COVID-19 cases across the state and country, health officials are keeping a close watch on two new variants, Delta Plus and Lambda.

“The Delta variant is not the end of it,” UAB’s Director of Health Informatics Dr. Sue Feldman said. “Kind of the way COVID is, there will be more variants. Just like when we think of other communicable diseases and how there are variants of them.”

The Delta variant first appeared in India in December 2020 before migrating to the U.S. and Feldman said something similar is likely going to happen again.

“We should not be surprised with other variants that are popping up in other countries,” she said. “They are going to spread.”

Delta plus is a version of the existing Delta variant. It was first found in Europe and has already appeared in some states. Fewer than 700 Lambda variant cases have also already been sequenced across the U.S..

“I think if we can take what we learned before and couple that up with what we see going on in other countries, I think we can develop a really strong plan,” Feldman said. “So, we don’t become reactive every time and shocked. We shouldn’t be reactive and shocked.”

Feldman said it’s unclear when these variants or new ones will make it to Alabama, but she said with emerging variants, personal responsibility is important.

“I think wearing a mask and being smart is a great tool to have in your arsenal,” she said.

Dr. Feldman said it is important to be tested as soon as you start noticing symptoms. She said Delta appears to have a shorter incubation period, meaning you can test positive around four days after an exposure, compared to the previous five or six days. She recommends using the GuideSafe exposure notification app.

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