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The India COVID-19 variant found in Louisiana

The La. Dept. of Health confirms the state’s first two cases of the strain found in the northwestern region.
Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 10:26 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The India variant, or B.1.617, is the latest mutation of COVID-19. The state Department of Health confirms Louisiana’s first two cases in the northern region. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s a variant of concern because of its transmissibility.

Doctors are urging people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

While there are multiple strains of the virus circulating Louisiana, this is the latest one. Doctors say it’s of concern because it appears to infect younger people rather than older-- which is different than what has been seen with earlier versions of the virus.

But it’s no reason for people to panic.

Dr. Lucio Miele, genetics chair at LSU Health said the vaccines seem to protect against this strain of the virus, and it doesn’t appear to have different or more severe symptoms from the other variants.

One of the concerns scientists like Dr. Miele have is that the India variant is more resistant to antibodies, specifically resistant to antibodies from people who have already had COVID-19.

“So the scenario we want to avoid is the virus continuing to spread and mutating and improving itself in the unvaccinated population and then coming back to haunt us when our vaccine-induced immunity starts declining because we don’t know how long it’s going to last,” said Dr. Miele.

“People who say, ‘Hey I’ve already had it. I don’t need to be vaccinated.’ They’re not going to be very well-protected against this virus.”

Dr. Miele adds that just because the India strain-- or B.1.617-- has not been reported in the New Orleans area, doesn’t mean it is not already here.

He said this strain is mutating and has already spawned three similar strains.

Right now, the best protection against all strains of the virus is the vaccines. Every infection that is prevented means the virus has one less chance to mutate.

Everyone 12 years of age and up is eligible to receive a vaccine.

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