UK COVID variant identified in Minnesota

Rachel Mills
Updated: January 25, 2021 06:43 PM
Created: January 25, 2021 04:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) - So far, there's not a lot of information out there about the new COVID variants because it's just too early to know much. 

As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 195 cases of the UK variant in the United States. Five of those cases were in Minnesota. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's Chief Medical Adviser, spoke about this variant with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America earlier today.

"When it was first studied intensively in the UK, the UK scientist made a statement that was clearly obvious, that this was more easily spread,"  Fauci said.

Not only is this variant more transmissible, but it may have more serious effects. 

"They became convinced that it is in fact a bit more virulent, making it more difficult when you get to the point of serious disease," Fauci said. 

What should Minnesotans know about these variants? 

"The fact that we've seen five cases in Minnesota indicates that it's pretty rare right now. I think the good news is that the treatments that we know work, likely work against this as well," Dr. Andrew Badley, the chair of the COVID task force at the Mayo Clinic, said.

Dr. Badley says treatments like the antiviral Remdesivir are working against the variants, but we don't yet know if the vaccines will protect against them. 

"Even though many of us are getting the vaccine right now, we still need to maintain our public health measures. And that includes social distancing, masking, avoiding large congregations, frequent hand washing," Badley said. 

We don't know where in the state the five cases are because of health information privacy laws in Minnesota. 

"Typically you don't see anything less than five people per county. Anything less than that and it might be possible to identify who that person is," says Dr. Catherine McCarty, Associate Dean for Research, University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School. 


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