Local experts talk growing concern amongst new COVID-19 strain arising in U.K.

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INDIANAPOLIS — There’s growing concern about a new COVID-19 strain that’s causing a lot of fear of the unknown. The fear is generating in the United Kingdom as researchers in the U.S. are generating conversations.

Britain officials sounded the alarm prompting a lockdown as other countries close their borders with a new COVID mutation leading to fear. Officials there say it may be up to 70% more transmissible than the current strain. Health officials around the world are working to learn more.

“But now it seems to be spreading more seems to have some changes that indicate that it could actually make it more likely to be infectious,” said Regenstrief President and CEO, Dr. Peter Embi, MD.

Researchers say mutation amongst viruses are normal and can take several turns.

“We know that viruses mutate over time. Every time they replicate, there’s a chance that there could be a change in the code and so that leads to a mutation,” said Dr. Peter Embi, MD.

The mutation is wide-ranging. It can lead to viruses less likely to infect people, make them sicker, or change the behavior of the virus. 

“There’s no indication right now that that new strain makes people sicker. And there’s no indication that it won’t be susceptible to the vaccine although it’s early and we don’t really know,” said Dr. Peter Embi, MD.

The U.S. has not identified this new strain, but researchers are working feverishly to identify it as it seems to spread quickly. 

“And if that’s true and if that holds up then that could lead to a lot more being infected,” said Dr. Peter Embi, MD.

The healthcare workers who have been vaccinated are being urged to make sure they follow-up with their second dose as conversations arise about this new strain. It’s recommended that second doses are taken on the exact date or after, not before.

“A little bit later is always better. So, if you’re days or a week later it would be fine that’s all good.” Said Ascension St. Vincent, Infection Prevention Medical Director, Dr. Christopher Belcher.

As health experts continue to learn more about this new variant, they say stick to the same advice. Stay in as much as you can, wear a mask, wash your hands, and avoid large crowds.

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