Variant Of COVID-19 Virus Detected In Three Alabamians


Alabama Department of Public Health Vaccine

The novel coronavirus that has pushed the world into a pandemic has mutated into additional strains, and one of those strains, that is more contagious, has now reached Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that three Alabama residents are infected with the strain called B.1.1.7.

One person is from Jefferson County, and the two others are from Montgomery County. The patients include one adult and two people under the age of 19.

The variant was first found in the U.K. late last year. It’s described as a “new and more highly transmissible” virus. So far, B.1.1.7 has been detected in 24 other states, including Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

“Viruses mutate, and due to surveillance, it was expected that cases would be found in Alabama,” wrote the ADPH in a press release.

This variant is more contagious than previous strains of COVID-19, according to the health department. But so far in the United States, this strain isn’t believed to be more deadly or cause stronger symptoms.

“At this time, many infectious disease experts and the CDC have indicated that the current vaccine should be effective against the U.K. strain. However, this is still being studied,” said the ADPH. “Currently, the U.K. variant has not definitively been linked to worse outcomes of the disease.”

But authorities in the U.K. disagree. Last week, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the B.1.1.7 variant maybe 30% more fatal than previous strains.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s chief scientific adviser said, “There’s a lot of uncertainty around these numbers, and we need more work to get a precise handle on it, but it obviously is a concern that this [variant] has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility.”

In a new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “the increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant warrants universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking. Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public.”

The ADPH continues to advise everyone to wear face masks, to maintain social distance and to wash hands frequently.


Local health officials plan to increase monkeypox vaccinations

Health officials will soon begin offering intradermal vaccinations, reaching more people with less vaccine.

Combating gun violence remains a top focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As violent crime in Birmingham and the surrounding area continues to increase, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona, uses a variety of tools and strategies to get firearms and bad guys off the street.

Some 3rd graders in local schools could be held back under new law 

This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade. The Alabama Literacy Act was passed several years ago, but its implementation was delayed because of the pandemic.

How one Birmingham custodian preps for the first day of school

When the kids are away, the custodial and maintenance staff in schools work all summer long. One custodian told WBHM about what it takes to keep the kids happy and healthy as they trade sunshine for fluorescent lights.

Dollar store workers are organizing for a better workplace. Just don’t call it a union.

Fired up by a labor movement that’s seen big union victories recently, dollar store workers are organizing in their own way to improve work conditions.

Bill Clark has a knack for making comebacks. Will he make one more? 

Bill Clark has had to overcome some serious hurdles during his career at UAB, as well as in his personal life. He not only resurrected a football program that had been neglected—and then out-right killed—he’s also been fighting through what he’s called a serious injury since childhood.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage