The Florida Department of Health in Leon County (DOH Leon) officially confirmed the identification of two cases of the COVID-19 variant that first originated in the United Kingdom.
According to a press release, DOH Leon is considering cases of the variant as priorities, and epidemiologists are attempting to monitor close contacts of the individuals.
There is no conclusive evidence that the new variant makes people sicker than the original COVID strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the variant reportedly propagates more quickly and is more contagious.
Current COVID vaccinations could also be less effective against the variant. However, according to the press release, “Both Pfizer and Moderna say their current vaccines appear to work against this variant.”
The CDC warns that viruses evolve continuously by replication, and it is predicted that new versions of a virus will develop over time.
DOH Leon Health Officer Claudia Blackburn said it is still important to take COVID precautions seriously.
“The arrival of the variant in our county is yet another reminder that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” Blackburn said. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still very limited. That’s why it’s critical that we all remain dedicated to following public health mitigation strategies by wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart, avoiding crowds, washing our hands frequently and following isolation and quarantine recommendations.”
In cooperation with the Florida Department of Health, DOH Leon aims to closely track evolving variants of COVID-19 and provide feedback when new data arrives.