New COVID variants concern Colorado health officials

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — State health officials tell FOX31 that the two cases of the Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in Colorado do not appear to be connected. Officials are still doing contact tracing to try to determine how the two individuals contracted the virus.

The new variants are concerning because there is some evidence they spread more easily and can cause more severe illness.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers are asking the experts questions about how dangerous these variants are and if the current vaccines protect you from them.

Health experts say the development of new variants is not surprising. Dr. Michelle Barron, infectious Disease Specialist at UCHealth said, “Some of it is copying errors. If you copied yourself or wrote the same sentence about yourself, even if you typed it, you’re going to probably perpetuate some errors.

“Some of them matter, in terms of changing the word to a whole different meaning and some are meaningless. We always think of a virus as one virus, but there are hundreds of cousins that want to hang out together. And sometimes they say let’s go hang out and play so they may mix. This is part of their ability to survive. They want to perpetuate and continue to survive. The mistakes sometimes give them an advantage and sometimes they give them a disadvantage.”

Barron says there is reason to be concerned and to continue to wash hands, wear a mask and social distance.

She said, “It matters because they spread more quickly. The other piece of it is, there is a suggestion even if you have had COVID before, the P.1 variant can still infect you.”

Barron said to minimize the impact, people should get the vaccine as soon as possible and complete the series.

“We certainly know there can be the potential for decreased efficacy for the vaccine in the setting of a variants, but we don’t know to what extent,” Barron said. “But at the end of the day, it’s still more than zero. If you don’t get a vaccine, you have no protection against these variants. If you have a vaccine, you still have 50, 60, 70 (percent) or maybe higher in terms of protection. The goal at the end of the day is to keep you out of the hospital and keep you from dying … a vaccine will do that even with a variant.”

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