KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – There are no confirmed cases of the United Kingdom mutation of COVID-19 here in the Miami Valley, but local doctors say the strain could already be spreading in the community.
Earlier this week, the first known U.S. case was confirmed in Colorado.
Since this strain of COVID-19 is believed to have been spreading since September, it’s possible it has already traveled from the United Kingdom to the Miami Valley, said Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, patient safety officer for Kettering Health Network.
“It’s pretty likely that this variant strain is elsewhere as well,” Dr. Weinstein said.
The strain’s symptoms are no more severe than the original virus, but it is believed to be much more contagious, making it much easier to spread from person-to-person, Dr. Weinstein said.
More extensive testing would be required to find out if any local patients are carrying the mutation, he added.
“Most of the time, we don’t sequence the virus,” Dr. Weinstein explained. “We’re just doing PCR testing, so we’re not checking what type of strain the patient has.”
There’s no reason right now to believe the vaccines that have been developed would not protect someone against the British strain, Dr. Weinstein said.
Public health officials say the mutation makes taking precautions against the virus especially important.
“Mask wearing when out in public, reducing their holiday activities, keeping their circles small,” said Erik Balster, Preble County health commissioner.