Intermountain Physicians Address New Variants Of COVID-19

Jan 19, 2021, 12:32 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2021, 12:03 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Doctors at Intermountain Healthcare are urging people to take extra care as the “U.K. variant” of COVID-19 gains footing in Utah.

There’s concern that even more variations of the virus could show up, too.

The U.K. variant is getting a lot of attention right now, but Brandon Webb, Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician, said that a few other mutations are starting to spread around the globe – including ones first found in Brazil and South Africa.

The good news, however, is the vaccine makers were forward-thinking enough to make sure the vaccines would cover different strains, Webb said. So the vaccines should still be effective for between 9 – 12 months.

Problems arise when there’s a higher likelihood of spread, though. Webb said that as the virus proliferates in higher numbers, that’s where new strains start to develop.

One thing many people don’t realize, he said, is that the dominant strain of COVID-19 worldwide is not the one that originated in Wuhan. It’s a variant from Europe.

“They really are a wakeup call that, more so than ever before, we need to rapidly do everything we can to bring down the community transmission rates,” Webb said. “Because the fewer the cases, the less replication going on.”

Hospitalizations remain high statewide. Approximately 560 people with COVID-19 are currently in hospital beds. Webb said Intermountain’s intensive care units are still very busy as well, and he added that hospitalization numbers typically take a few weeks to catch up from case numbers.

That means the state could still see the hospitalization numbers climb in the coming days as a result of holiday gatherings.

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Intermountain Physicians Address New Variants Of COVID-19