Despite the initial rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna covid-19 vaccine starting recently in the U.S., a new variant of the coronavirus strain first identified in the fall in the UK, has now been confirmed in two Colorado cases.
The new covid-19 strain is estimated to be significantly more contagious than the other strain; around 70% more as estimated by UK scientists. However, it does not appear to be much more deadly.
The UK variant was initially identified around September 2020. U.S. health officials now believe that the new strain had already been in the United States despite no confirmed cases besides those in Colorado. The first identified variant case in the U.S. came from Colorado’s Elbert County traced to a worker at an assisted living facility in Simla. Another worker at the same facility may also be identified as a second case.
Both workers are currently isolating outside the county and there is no further information on whether the variant is being spread to the larger community.
Other countries such as Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and Italy also exhibited cases of the UK variant.
Another separate new covid-19 strain has also been identified in South Africa, and similar to the variant from the UK, this strain is believed to be more contagious. Moreover, similar to the UK variant, no reports indicate there is increased mortality. There is also no information on whether the United States has detected cases of the South African variant.
Both Pfizer and Moderna claim that their vaccines are effective against new variants, but further testing is now taking place to ensure it offers immunity to the new identified strains.
Though much information remains to be discerned, reports indicate that the new variant is trying to be contained. In the meantime, essential healthcare workers, the elderly, and political leaders continue to be vaccinated.
Questions about the new covid-19 strain to discuss on Ohlelo:
- How long do you think the new covid-19 strain has been in the United States?
- How effective do you believe the UK government and other governments have been in containing the new covid-19 variants?
- Do you think the influx of new variants of the virus will cause drastic changes in the economy, life, etc.?
- What should the US do to try to avoid and/or contain the new strain?