Oklahoma State epidemiologist: UK strain of COVID-19 likely in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma health leaders say Oklahomans need to continue taking precautions as a new strain of COVID-19 spreads across the United States.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor says that there is “no significant presence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus” confirmed in Oklahoma.

However, he says some initial test results might be consistent with one of the new strains.

The B.1.1.7 COVID-19 strain, which was first detected in the United Kingdom in December, is more transmittable. Officials say this strain is thought to be 70% more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain. However, it is not associated with more severe infections.

Dr. Taylor says researchers looked at a small group of samples obtained from Oklahomans for the possibility of the mutations. The results showed that mutations were found in several of the samples, including one that matched the profile of the B.1.1.7 strain.

Since it was done in a research setting, more tests need to be done to confirm the mutation.

“Regardless, state epidemiologists speculate that the ‘U.K. strain’ is likely already present and circulating in Oklahoma, as it has already been detected in other states with local transmission. This strain is more transmissible than the strain that has been in the U.S. today, and will likely spread faster,” a statement from Dr. Taylor read.

Since the U.K. strain is more transmissible, it is more important than ever that Oklahomans take precautions.

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