Southern Indiana doctors concerned about new COVID strain found in state

Southern Indiana doctors concerned about new COVID strain found in state

(WAVE) - A more infectious COVID-19 strain first found in the United Kingdom has been discovered in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Health reported the strain was found in its testing laboratory.

It’s common for viruses to mutate, but doctors at Clark Memorial Health and Floyd County Health told WAVE 3 News the strain found in Indiana and eight other states is more infectious. However, it’s shouldn’t be a major cause for concern.

“It’s out there and we’re going to have to deal with it,” Floyd County Health Department Officer Dr. Tom Harris said.

Another infectious disease expert, Clark Memorial Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Klaus Boel, said the development of a new strain of COVID is not shocking. In fact, experts have been expecting it.

“We knew this virus was going to mutate all along. We’ve been watching this for a long time,” he said.

Boel and Harris both explained that viruses naturally mutate. According to the CDC, the new strain is 70% more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain. However, doctors have found that the new strain is neither more lethal nor more serious than the original virus.

“In some ways, we’re actually lucky,” Harris said. “It does look like this new strain is still sensitive to the previous vaccine.”

He said, specifically, the Pfizer vaccine is the most effective against the new variant strain.

The mutation and infectious capabilities are why doctors are worried about the populations who haven’t been vaccinated and those at risk, like the older population. Harris and Boel said the elderly should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The best way to go about keeping the strain from spreading is continuing mitigation efforts and being mindful.

“When the other holidays came along, Thanksgiving, we always expected an increase in viral activities in the area and increase of spread,” Boel said. “This is the same for us. We’ve never, in a way, taken our foot off the gas in terms of being prepared.”

COVID-19 tests pick up the new strain but reportedly require further testing based on DNA data to figure out which strain caused the infection.

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