Highly contagious COVID-19 variant identified in New Mexico
We’re joined now by ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr Jennifer Ashton today to talk about the latest on Cove in 19 in the United States. Thanks for doing this, doctor. Let’s start with the latest on this new variant that’s now showing up in the United States. What are we learning about it, and how easily does it spread? Well, first, let’s take a big picture view here. Viruses mutate for a living. So simply the announcement that there’s a new variant orm or this virus has mutated at least 23 times since we became introduced to it. Not every mutation or variant makes it worse, but there is some evidence in the UK that this new variant is more transmissible, much more transmissible by about 50 to 70% Scientists still looking into that. But if that is the case, that is a massive concern here, just based on share numbers, more people infected will mean more hospitalizations and more deaths. Eso that’s a concern. They’re also gonna be looking at whether or not the new variant is still susceptible to the vaccine or to natural immunity for people who have had other strains. Other variants of SARS. Kobe, too. So still. Ah lot toe learn. Still a lot of unknowns, but there are some concerning features here. To be sure you touched on this doctor Ashton, about whether the current vaccines might work on this new variant that still remains to be seen. Is that right? Well, right now, there is no indication that it doesn’t, but they are actively looking at that. And that brings into the forefront. Ah, bigger question, Which is that here in the United States, we’re doing the genetic sequencing. It’s called, which is really looking at the genetic fingerprint off the viruses that we are seeing less than 1% of all specimens. So it’s hard to respond to something if you don’t know it’s there. So when you hear about isolated case reports of this variant has been found in this state or that state, every infectious disease, public health and epidemiologist that I’ve spoken to has said, if it’s in the UK, if it’s in Canada, it’s here and likely in very large numbers. We just aren’t doing the kind of surveillance that we can pick up on that. Some people in priority groups are starting to get their second dose of the vaccine right now, but the rollout has seen some bumps nationally. How? How could those be smoothed out? Well, we’ve been saying this for a while. You know, there’s there was the science and the timeline for the for the discovery of a vaccine and then the manufacturing, which was done in Siris and parallel, um, to save time. And then there was the rollout, and the steps in the roll out not only involved shipping and distribution but administration. And to be crystal clear, we need to ramp up the pace and do it quickly if we’re going to make a dent in the approximately 300,000 new cases of co vid that we’re seeing in this country every single day. So, yes, it’s important to have those groups and those phases, but there’s a lot of vaccine right now sitting in a lot of freezers around the country that could be going into people’s arms who wanted, and we need to figure out a way to operationalize that system in a much better and more efficient way and do it quickly. And Dr Ashton were just coming off the holiday season of course, and there are concerns about that lag. Seeing a spike two weeks after the holidays or Moorhouse, How long before you think we might see that holiday surge? Well, there’s always that lag eso. It’s typically around two weeks after exposure that you start to see those numbers go up. But again, we’re talking about an incubation period of up to 14 days. People who traveled last week, um, should either be tested or quarantine or both. Do as much as you can do more, not less, because there is so much cove it right now in in the community, in households and people getting sick. And then you talk about another 2 to 3 week lag time for hospitalizations and then deaths after that. So we may not see the true effect and impact off holiday travel and get togethers and celebrations until the end of January. And where we are right now is in critical condition. So it’s hard to imagine those numbers getting worse. Yeah, frustrating, indeed. Can I ask you about vitamin D and co vid than seeing some medical headlines about it? Ah, couple of things that people catching it seemed to be low and vitamin D, and also that vitamin D can help people fight it off. So we’ve talked about that a lot on our show. GM A. Three What you need to know from the beginning of this pandemic, there are clinical trials ongoing and a lot of research on going about the effects. Possible effects of Vitamin D three on co vid There is existing data about the vitamins effects on reducing the risk of other respiratory infections, Um, in terms of the way it reduces inflammation and improves our immune function. But right now there is no verdict, no official recommendation that vitamin D can prevent or treat Cove in 19. What we do know is that a lot of people who have died of Covert 19 are also by association in groups that tend to have low levels. So black and brown people, people who are obese, the elderly on DSO. We have to make our observation and association in medicine and science first before we start to go to cause and effect. And right now there’s no existing causation that recommends any kind of connection between vitamin D three and covert 19. Prevention or treatment Got it one last question. You talk about there being so much cove it in the country right now. And now this variant strain and sort of the bumps in the in the vaccine roll out. I think a lot of us in the general public were looking ahead to, you know, maybe early summer of things sort of normalizing. Is this just gonna extend that timeline? You know, no one has a crystal ball, and I’m included in that. I speak to Dr Anthony Fauci on a regular basis and other top public health officials. And, you know, right now it’s it’s just premature to look too far down the road when we have a situation right now in the present that we need to address on DSO much needs toe happen between now and then. So as people try to get their vaccines right now, just control what you can control, which is meaning postpone or delay or reschedule anything that’s not essential right now. You don’t want to take any chances at this point. Especially with the vaccine so close for so many people. So close. Indeed. Doctor Ashton. Thank you so much for your time this afternoon. We appreciate it. Thanks for having me
Highly contagious COVID-19 variant identified in New Mexico
The Department of Health has identified the first case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant. The B.1.1.7 variant was found in a man in his 60s who is associated with traveling to the U.K. in December. The man is currently recovering from a mild illness, no hospitalization was required. At this point, officials with the DOH have not identified any close contacts within the state. The variant is not believed to be any more lethal than the current COVID-19 virus, but it is thought to be much more contagious. To visit our COVID-19 Special Section click here >>
The Department of Health has identified the first case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant.
The B.1.1.7 variant was found in a man in his 60s who is associated with traveling to the U.K. in December.
The man is currently recovering from a mild illness, no hospitalization was required.
At this point, officials with the DOH have not identified any close contacts within the state.
The variant is not believed to be any more lethal than the current COVID-19 virus, but it is thought to be much more contagious.