COVID-19 South African Variant Detected In Connecticut
Once we first heard about the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus, you knew it was just a matter of time before someone in Connecticut came down with it.
Well, according to Governor Ned Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Health, that first case of the COVID-19 strain has officially been detected here in Connecticut.
A Fairfield County resident has tested positive for what they are labeling as the B.1.351 variant of the Coronavirus. Connnecticut was notified by the New York State Department of Health that the patient, who's said to be between the age of 60 and 70, was already hospitalized in New York.
The Department of Health says this strain of the virus is more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus, and was first detected in October 2020 in South Africa. The first cases of this variant appeared in the U.S. at the end of January.
Dr. Rajeev Fernando, one of New York's top infectious disease specialists who we feature every Thursday morning, talked to us recently about this strain of the virus, and if the current vaccine will work to prevent it.
"The South African strain is a mutation and we see that with all forms of the coronavirus. Mutation happens within what we call the spike protein, which is what causes clinical disease. The South African strain happens to have mutations at the very critical portion of the spike protein, and that's what has everyone concerned right now.
"We are still studying to see how affective the vaccine will be," said Dr. Fernando. "But there are a couple of companies out there which have already said it's not going to be as affective as it should. It will be affective to pass the percentage to actually work. For example, on the current U.S and U.K. strains that we have been seeing since the start of the pandemic, both Pfizer and Moderna predict 95% success. And just to point out, it prevents death by 100%. You get the vaccine, there's a 0% chance you will die. Moderna is now proposing a third dose if it becomes necessary."
"It's also important to understand that these tweaks can be made by vaccination companies very quickly. They recognize some changes and mutations, then they go back to the drawing board and tweak the vaccine a little bit, it's basically done without raising an eyebrow. It's completely possible if the strain changes and we're noticing decreased efficacy, like Moderna, they will say let's do another dose and it can be done that quickly."
While this is Connecticut's first case of this South African strain, the U.K. strain has already been detected in 42 people around the state.
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.