Baton Rouge doctors concerned about coronavirus variants

Baton Rouge doctors concerned about coronavirus variants

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Several new, more contagious, variants of the Coronavirus have health officials in Louisiana worried the state could see a fourth, large surge in cases.

The U.K, B.1.1.7, variant is already in Louisiana according to the Department of Health. Dr. Catherine O’Neal, the Chief Medical Officer at Our Lady of the Lake said we need to fight against COVID fatigue and double down on protective measures to prevent these new variants from sweeping the state.

“It’s very concerning for our country because we know it’s here and it’s circulating in our communities and as we’re looking to find it through sequencing, we really have to double down on our measures otherwise this is going to become the dominant strain ad could see a surge greater than anything we’ve ever seen,” Dr. O’Neal said.

O’Neal said the new UK variant is 40-80% more contagious than the strain of Covid the U.S. has already been battling. She said even those who have had the virus already may become infected again.

“It looks like the previous infection is not as protective as we thought, especially with the variants,” she said. “We really need to wait for the vaccines. We can’t consider ourselves safe if previously infected.”

O’Neal said the best defense against the new variants of the virus are the tried and true measures, masking up, social distancing, and getting the vaccine. The vaccines, while having diminished effectiveness against the new strains, do offer protection she said.

“When you look at the flu shot, t’s 40-60% efficacious,” she said. “When we look at the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines they’re in the 90% efficacy, that’s awesome. If you decrease that efficacy a little bit to 60% you’re still talking about a great shot.”

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