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Here's what to know about the new strain of COVID-19

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 10:04:04-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new variant of COVID-19 has made its way to the US, with cases showing up in Saratoga County, just hours from Western New York.

"This new variant will serve as a wake up call for those people who have dropped their guard a little bit when being rigorous about public health measures," Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of Infectious Disease at the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine said.

This new variant is one that, according to Dr. Russo, is more infectious.

"It has accounted for increased proportions of infections in the UK, it's believed to be more infectious," Dr. Russo said.

According to the experts, just because it is more infectious, does not mean there is time for panic.

"The early suggestion is this should not be a cause for concern," Dr. Yasmin Thanavala, Professor of Immunology at Roswell Park said.

"Presently, the data does not support that it does not cause a more severe disease, which is obviously good news," Dr. Russo said.

The question will be to see how the vaccine reacts to this new strain.

"Will the antibodies that are generated when people are vaccinated be impeded by the mutations by the new virus that we are seeing," Dr. Thanavala said.

It's an answer that could take months to get the answer to as both Dr. Thanavala and Dr. Russo believe it is likely that the new strain has already made its way to Western New York, the first of what could be many different strains.

"Viruses mutate all the time and there is little question we will so many more mutations in the future," Dr. Russo said.