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A closer look at the COVID variant first spotted in the UK and what it means to you

“The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 has found to be more contagious and more effective. That’s what’s being more worrisome,” said Dr. Kimberly Brown.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You’ve heard a lot of talk about COVID-19 variants, but we know there are still questions out there, particularly as it relates to the variant first spotted in the United Kingdom. Local 24 News reporter Brittani Moncrease takes a closer look at the variant of concern.

The battle against COVID is certainly not over. We know the variant seen in the UK is here in the Mid-South. We are walking you through what you need to know and how to defend yourself. We know this to be true. Viruses change.

“Viruses are smart. They learn how to adapt. If they learn that your body is trying to fight it off one way, it’ll actually try to go in and change DNA to make it so it’s more resistant against how your body is trying to fight it,” said Dr. Kimberly Brown, Baptist DeSoto Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Brown said COVID is no exception. There are several variants of the virus, but on that is really sticking out in the US.

“The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 has found to be more contagious and more effective. That’s what’s being more worrisome,” said Dr. Brown.

B.1.1.7 variant is also known as the variant first seen in the UK.

“We first noticed that we were getting more of this variant in January, but we weren’t sure how it was going to impact anything. We were just continuing to watch it. Now, we’re seeing spikes of cases of the UK variant going on in those two states,” said Dr. Brown.

The hotspots are New York and Michigan.

“We are not sure that it is more deadly. It’s starting to possibly look like it may be. It’s causing a lot more hospitalizations and people are getting much more sick with COVID,” said Dr. Brown.

How does this variant stand against the vaccine?

“Right now, we do not think that patients who are fully vaccinated are getting the variant. They’re usually perfectly fine if they have been in contact with somebody with COVID-19.”

That still doesn’t mean it is time to mask down or scratch out social distancing.

“Since this is so new and we’re continuing to study it, it’s still important to wear your mask when you’re around people that are not in your household. It’s still important to social distance,” said Dr. Brown.

That goes for those who have survived COVID too and developed antibodies.

“They are still at risk of possibly getting a variant,” said Dr. Brown.

To be on the safe side and COVID-free, keep masking up and social distancing. Of course, health officials recommend getting vaccinated.