Public health leaders, including here in St. Louis, are watching closely as a new variant of the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus has been found in three states, Colorado, California, and Florida. This new variant was first identified in the United Kingdom; however, these first known U.S. cases are not believed to be linked to travel within the U.K. At this time, no cases of this new variant have been confirmed in Missouri.
“Early research of this new strain in the United Kingdom predicts it has the potential to spread more rapidly than other strains of the COVID-19 virus,” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the City of St. Louis. “We must not forget that the virus is spread by respiratory transmission. The City of St. Louis Department of Health needs everyone to take this seriously and follow the preventative measures (wearing face coverings, social distancing, washing your hands regularly with soap and water) we did throughout 2020 to protect our health and the health of those we care about. If we fail to implement these measures we will place the health of our community in danger.”
Information on this new variant from the United Kingdom predicts it has potential to spread more rapidly than other strains of SARS-CoV2; however, there is no evidence at this time that the variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. The public must remain vigilant in protecting its health from all variants of SARS-CoV2.
Virus mutation is common and can emerge and disappear quickly. Some mutations can emerge that help a virus spread more easily, cause infection to be more or less severe, or lead to resistance to treatments or vaccines. Based on the information available now, the effectiveness of the vaccine has not changed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other public health experts throughout the United States and the world continue to monitor the situation around this rapidly emerging variant and will issue new information as it becomes available.
Department of Health
Immunizations and Public Health