OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There are now cases of all four COVID-19 variants of concerns in Oklahoma, including a double-mutant variant that was first detected in India.
“We have all of these variants of concern here in Oklahoma,” Dr. George Monks with the Oklahoma State Medical Association said.
Those variants of concerns include the B.1.1.7 strain first detected in the U.K., the B.1.351 strain first detected in South Africa, the P.1 variant from Brazil, and the latest variant of concern which is the B.1617, a double-mutant strain that was first detected in India.
“This variant of concern from India has been found in over 17 countries and it’s been found in over 10 states in the United States,” Dr. Monks said.
There have only been two cases of that variant recorded here in Oklahoma, so far. There have also been 118 cases of the UK variant and 2-4 cases of the other two.
According to the World Health Organization, the Indian variant is highly contagious and spreads more easily than the original virus.
“It is concerning. Variants of concern are really the wild card that we’re facing,” Dr. Monks said.
That’s why Monks said he believes the state of Oklahoma needs to increase testing for these variants.
“We’re still not doing enough testing for variants of concern here in Oklahoma. In fact, we’re still ranked last in the United States,” he said.
He also said the race to get Oklahomans vaccinated continues, as it is the best defense against COVID-19 and all variants of the virus.
“If everyone is vaccinated or we can at least get to herd immunity, the virus is going to have a very hard time going from one person to another and that’s our best chance to get back to normal,” Dr. Monks said.
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Some Oklahomans News 4 spoke with agree, while others said they aren’t concerned.
“I’m not afraid, you know, it’s just a little flu,” one man said.
“Get your COVID vaccine if you’re able to and then we can start making our way back to some normalcy here soon,” another Oklahoman said.