New COVID-19 strain appears in Pa.

Written by on January 8, 2021

New COVID-19 strain appears in Pa.

Brett Sholtis, Transforming Health/WITF

January 9, 2020

Healthcare workers test a person at a COVID-19 drive-thru testing. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Pennsylvania reported its first known case of the more contagious mutation of the coronavirus.

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This variant is not known to cause more serious symptoms, according to Transforming Health’s Brett Sholtis who adds that health experts are racing to learn more about the new COVID-19 strain.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say there’s evidence it “propagates more quickly” in human cells and may “out-compete” other mutations of the virus. But there is no evidence that this version produces a more severe illness. 

Health journal The Lancet notes, it’s as much as 70% more transmissible than the previously widespread form of the virus, according to data models.

It’s often called the “UK” variant because it was first found in England, prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to order a national lockdown across the United Kingdom earlier this week.

In Pennsylvania, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says no additional public health interventions are planned and that the Commonwealth is currently vaccinating health care workers and people most at risk. 

“The vaccine experts anticipate that there would be no difficulty with the vaccine producing an immune response that would be able to prevent this strain,” she says.

The person who tested positive is from Dauphin County and is recovering.

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