DPH confirms at least 45 cases of UK variant across Georgia, real number likely higher

DPH confirms at least 45 cases of UK variant across Georgia, real number likely higher

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The Department of Public Health confirmed Monday that there are at least 45 cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 across the state.

Health officials told Channel 2′s Lori Wilson that number is likely much higher.

Vaccine producers Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and others are all focused on the variant strains of coronavirus.

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“All of the vaccine manufacturers are keeping a very close eye on these variants,” said Georgia Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek.

Drenzek said it takes a global village to fight COVID-19 and its various strains.

“We have to be able to monitor how they’re circulating, how they’re changing. Do the mutations and changes that we see have an actual impact?” Drenzek said.

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Georgia continues to ramp up how many COVID-19 positive cases it sequences. Sequencing the cases is what lets researchers know the lineage or strain of the virus.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the country is sequencing about 1% of cases now and we should be doing about 5%.

Drenzek said while the viruses are very different, the experience researchers have with the flu virus has provided a road map for how to deal with a changing virus.

“Every year experts have to decide what four strains are going to be in a flu vaccine,” Drenzek said.

The more quickly the virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate.

“The new federal administration recognizes the need and will offer funding for states to do this type of testing,” Drenzek said.

That’s why Drenzek told Wilson that the messaging will stay the same: Wear your mask, wash your hands and social distance.

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