UT Southwestern Medical Center has identified the first cases of the Brazil variant of COVID-19 in North Texas.
- A strong warning for all of us after researchers discover more contagious variants of COVID-19 in DFW. Our Ken Molestina joining us from the CBSN DFW studios. So we talk about variants. You and I have reported on many of them, but the one you're going to share here considered to be more aggressive. Tell us more. Why?
KEN MOLESTINA: Yeah, Doug. It was over the weekend, first of all, that we should tell you. That's when researchers at UT Southwestern, they made the find after testing positive COVID samples. So we're talking, of course, about the Brazilian variant. It is said to be more aggressive, and in this case more resistant to vaccines.
For a while now medical experts have been warning about the Brazilian variant of COVID-19. Dr. Jeff SoRelle is from UT Southwestern in Dallas where the first few cases have been identified.
JEFF SORELLE: So we've been seeing several different variants, mostly from the UK coming through. But this was the first instance where a Brazilian variant called P1 first came through. Which is a major variant of concern.
KEN MOLESTINA: Doctor SoRelle says the discovery was made in two of 30 COVID positive samples at UT Southwestern. He explains this variant is known for spreading quicker and being more resistant to the vaccine compared to other variants.
JEFF SORELLE: Possibly a twice as high transmission, this specific strain. And there's some evidence mutation that it has may make the virus more able to invade the immune system. So this could decrease the efficacy of vaccines or it could lead to reinfection.
KEN MOLESTINA: Dallas county's director of Health and Human Services, Doctor Philip Wong, says this discovery comes at a time where vaccines are being made available to everyone in Dallas County, with even more on the way. His advice to the public is to continue to get the vaccine. Although this variant is more resistant, the medical experts say, the shot will help reduce spread and severe illnesses associated with it.
PHILIP WONG: You can get in and out in 30 to 45 minutes. You don't even have to get out of your car. It's now so easy to get these vaccines. To take advantage of that. But we need everyone to get it as soon as possible.
KEN MOLESTINA: In the meantime, medical experts say the best thing you can do is continue to practice all of the social distancing and handwashing habits that we've all become accustomed to.
JEFF SORELLE: It's unclear if we'll see more next week or might see them in a few weeks from now. But I think it wouldn't be surprising.
KEN MOLESTINA: Important to point out here, folks. Dr. SoRelle told me that right now, as it stands, they do believe even if they see a few more cases of the Brazilian variant they are able to contain it. He's quite confident of that. That could change though if there is a massive surge. But again, the advice to the public right now, Doug. Continue to do your part to minimize exposure and spread, and of course that social distancing, washing your hands, and keep the masks on.
- All right good info, Ken. We've always said the info is power.