The Arizona Department of Health Services says a new, more infectious variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Arizona. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.
The variant was first identified in the United Kingdom late last year and arrived in the U.S. in December. So far, Arizona agencies have reported three positive samples.
Jason Ladner, infectious disease expert at Northern Arizona University, says, "I think it’s definitely something we need to continue to monitor very closely… From a public health perspective, this is important, because the more infectious a virus is, the more people need to be protected in order to achieve population-level immunity, often referred to as herd immunity."
Herd immunity is achieved when enough people recover from COVID-19 or get vaccinated against it. Studies suggest currently approved vaccines do protect against the U.K. variant. But Ladner says over time the vaccines may need to be redesigned as the coronavirus continues to evolve.