Connecticut is one of nearly two dozen states reporting an uptick of covid-19 cases. As that’s happening, medical experts are keeping a close eye on the spread of covid-19 variants in the state.
The key to controlling the spread of these variants is getting vaccinated and following the public health measures suggested to prevent person-to-person spread.
It’s normal for new variants of a virus to emerge and what we are seeing globally is pretty routine.
When viruses copy themselves they sometimes make mistakes, which can result in changes to the genetic code of the virus. If this change provides the virus with an advantage, such as spreading more readily, viruses with this new property can become the predominant virus circulating in a community and can spread to new areas when people travel.”
Some of the variants that are being monitored closely have come from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. All three have been identified in Connecticut and the concern is that they can spread more readily from person-to-person. The virus that causes covid-19 will continue to develop variants as long as it’s allowed to spread.
Hartford HealthCare continues to vaccinate communities across Connecticut, which has helped in the fight against COVID-19. As of April 1, anyone age 16 and older is eligible to receive the vaccine. The big question now, will the current vaccines be effective against the variants?
We currently have three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. All of them are expected to generate protection against these variants. The vaccines may have a slightly lower efficacy against the variants, but these vaccines are highly effective against the virus that causes covid-19 so we continue to expect protection against the variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
In addition to getting vaccinated, the most important thing people can do to help reduce the spread of covid-19 and the variants is to continue wearing masks, wash their hands and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas.
These public health measures will help prevent that person-to-person spread and will reduce the spread of the variants as well. Reducing that spread is critically important. You should not panic about these variants, but you should continue to try to avoid covid-19 and get vaccinated when it is your turn.
Dr. Virginia Bieluch is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines and to make an appointment, visit www.hartfordhealthcare.org/vaccine or call 860.827.7690.