MCHD offers information as new COVID variant found in downstate Michigan

Currently, the new COVID variant hasn’t been found in Upper Michigan.
COVID Variant graphic.
COVID Variant graphic.(WLUC/CDC)
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 3:17 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Marquette County Health Department is offering up some information on the new COVID variant found in downstate Michigan over the weekend.

The variant, B.1.1.7 ( also known as the U.K. variant) was first detected in the United Kingdom (UK) in mid-December 2020, but has since been reported in at least 15 U.S. states and 30 additional countries.

The CDC anticipates it may become the dominant COVID virus this year.

“Mutations in viruses are expected, with the COVID virus undergoing an average of one mutation every two weeks,” MCHD said in a release.

The health department said some mutations may kill the virus, some may result in no change, and some may results in a virus that can lead to clinical, virological and epidemiological differences.

MCHD said this is what is currently known about the B.1.1.7 variant:

  • Associated with increased transmissibility (i.e. more efficient and rapid transmission)
  • No impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy
  • Little-to-no impact is expected for natural immunity or current testing
  • No indication that new variant exhibits any changes in the virus composition that would impact the current vaccines’ effectiveness
  • No impact on effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments

The greater transmission rate of the virus is based on modeling and data, not yet proven in lab experiments, the MCHD said.

How this variant will affect Michigan and the Upper Peninsula is unknown at this time, but the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said it is still concerning.

“Currently, the Upper Peninsula has no concerning variants identified,” the MCHD said.

But, the health department reminds the public to continue to follow coronavirus guidelines.

“Rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies,” such as vaccination, social distancing, wearing masks, washing your hands, and properly isolating and quarantining “will be essential to limiting the spread of the COVID and any of its variants,” MCHD said.

Marquette County Health Department updates can be found on the department’s Facebook page and website.

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