Highly contagious viral variant identified in 3rd County of Michigan


GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan. – A new, more contagious strain of coronavirus was first reported in a third county in Michigan.

Health officials say a confirmed case of a highly contagious variant of COVID-19 known as B117 has been reported in Kent County Sunday February 7.

As of February 5, a total of 28 known cases of the variant have been identified in Michigan over the past month, but cases have only been reported in Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

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Read: 28 cases of COVID-19 B117 variant confirmed in Washtenaw, Wayne counties, officials say

The new case reported from across the state on Sunday appears to confirm the belief of health officials that there are likely more cases of the variant of the virus in Michigan, they simply have not been identified yet. .

“Fundamentally, this is a race to cover our people; a race that pits vaccination efforts against the transmission of infection, ”said Dr Adam London, director of the Kent County Department of Health. “As we work to minimize the impact of COVID-19 infections, the B.1.1.7 variant gives the virus increased speed.”

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By nature, a virus – especially an RNA virus like the coronavirus – constantly mutates when it infects people, as it copies itself in the process. Sometimes several individual mutations in the virus can build up or occur at the same time, resulting in a new version of the virus with new characteristics, called a variant.

The B117 variant, which was first discovered in the UK in late 2020, is of particular concern because of its increased transmissibility: health experts say the B117 variant is 50% more contagious than the dominant coronavirus strain in United States today.

Experts warn that the B117 variant will likely become the dominant source of COVID infection in the United States by the end of March this year.

The first known case of the variant of the virus in Michigan was identified on January 16 in a woman from Washtenaw County who had just traveled to the UK

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Since then, all of the state’s case variants have only been found in Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Washtenaw County officials say all known cases of the B117 variant in that county are linked to the University of Michigan community.

After the start of the variant epidemic within the UM community, all college sports were suspended until February 6, and all college students living on or near the Ann Arbor campus were urged to stay. at home until February 7 to help curb the spread of the virus.

Related: University of Michigan identifies virus outbreaks in off-campus homes

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So far, three variants of COVID-19, including the B117 variant, have been identified in the United States. Only the B117 variant was discovered in Michigan as of February 7.

Health experts have previously said existing therapies and vaccines are still effective against the B117 variant, but that remains to be determined. Some preliminary research shows that existing vaccines are effective against the B117 variant – although to a lesser extent – but less effective against other variants like the B1351 variant, which has been found in South Africa.

Following: Everything we know about virus variants in Michigan, United States

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and more contagious variants, people are encouraged to continue taking precautions, including social distancing, mask wear, good hygiene and avoiding crowds and gatherings.

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