COVID-19 vaccine distribution expands in Mississippi
Mississippi National Guard assists the Miss. Department of Health and UMC with COVID-19 vaccinations across the state, now open to those 75 and above.
Barbara Gauntt, Clarion-Ledger
The South Africa COVID-19 variant has been identified in one Mississippi resident in Harrison County, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said Friday during a local media briefing.
“If we found one, there’s probably multiple,” Dobbs said. “We all need to be careful and cautious everywhere.”
It’s the second COVID-19 variant that’s come to Mississippi. The U.K. COVID-19 variant was first identified in the state Feb. 15. At that time, it had already been recognized in 40 states, according to as state health department news release.
As of Friday afternoon, State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said the health department has identified 10 people in Mississippi who have been infected with the U.K. variant.
The South Africa COVID-19 variant is less widespread in the United States, with 25 states reporting cases. Overall, there have been 142 cases of the South Africa variant in the United States, Byers said.
Increasing COVID-19 variants in Mississippi cause concern because they could spread more easily, Dobbs and Byers explained. It’s triggered the health department to ramp up variant testing.
With more variant cases occurring in the state, Dobbs said, “This is a strong reminder that we are not remotely out of this.” He urged people to use basic precautions — face masks, social distancing and hand washing — and get vaccinated.
What is a COVID-19 variant, anyway?
In the medical world, coronavirus is an umbrella term and under it are seven types of coronavirus that can infect people. COVID-19 is one of the seven, and it’s the specific coronavirus that caused the start of the pandemic a year ago.
There are different kinds of COVID-19, which are called variants.
First discovered in Britain in December, the UK variant traveled to America by the end of 2020. By the beginning of February, the number of cases involving the UK variant was doubling every 10 days in the United States, according to The New York Times.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the UK variant is particularly problematic because it’s faster and quicker to spread. Experts in Britain say the variant “may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses,” according to a CDC report.
The South Africa COVID-19 variant was discovered in December and traveled to the U.S. in late January Based on a CDC report, there is not currently evidence to suggest the South Africa variant has any impact on disease severity.
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