Experts say new COVID-19 strain more contagious but not more lethal

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INDIANAPOLIS — State health leaders confirm they have found the new strain of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom, in Indiana.

Experts said there is no evidence indicating this strain is more lethal or causes more severe infections.

However, it is 50% more contagious than the original strain. For example, doctors explain instead of one person infecting two people, this strain could cause one person to infect three people if proper health precautions are not being followed.

“Those three go to nine, those nine go to 27, and those 27 go to 81,” said Dr. Paul Calkins, associate chief medical executive at I.U. Health.

Experts also added that they do not believe new precautions would prevent further spread of any strains.

“I think if we tried to add new behaviors, we’ll just have people who do the old behaviors less well,” Dr. Calkins said.

Dr. Calkins said he is concerned a fatigued population will not practice the precautions needed to stop a strain that spreads easier.

Brian Dixon, director of Public Health Informatics at Regenstrief Institute, said experts are confident the vaccines will guard against this new strain. The race continues to get more people vaccinated.

Unfortunately, Dixon said there are some bottleneck issues despite healthcare workers best efforts.

“We have small health departments all across Indiana that are really struggling to do the vaccines and get people through the pipeline as quickly as possible,” Dixon said. “But we also have just a limited number of people, healthcare workers, that are authorized to give vaccines.”

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