ALABAMA – Two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant have been detected in Alabama.
AL.com reported the variant, which was initially thought to be more contagious when it was first identified in the U.S. in January, hasn’t spread as rapidly as anticipated.
While the variant does elude vaccines more than others, state health officials, such as Dr. Karen Landers, said the current vaccines should continue to work.
“We still believe that the vaccine product we have will work against this variant,” she told AL.com.
Health officials statewide are focusing more on the UK variant, which is both more contagious and deadlier than the original virus.
The variant made up 40 percent of cases in early April, according to AL.com.
Landers reiterated the importance for Alabamians to continue getting vaccinated and continue social distancing where possible, acknowledging that vaccine demand has declined statewide.
“We’re really, really wanting people to be vaccinated,” she added. “It is really a race to get as many people vaccinated as possible before we have more transmission of the virus.”
The news of the new variant in Alabama comes the day after federal health officials re-authorized use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
15 people reported unusual blood clots following the shot out of 8 million total shots administered prior to the 11-day pause.