New COVID variant confirmed in Michigan

A new, more contagious form of COVID has been discovered in Washtenaw County.

B.1.1.7 is here.

State health officials announced on Saturday that a woman in Washtenaw County has tested positive for a new and more virulent strain of the virus that causes COVID-19.

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What It Is: The new strain of the novel coronavirus, referred to as B.1.1.7, was first discovered in the U.K. late last year. It is notable because it is 40-70% more contagious than the dominant strains of the virus in the U.S. So far it doesn’t seem to cause any more severe symptoms of infection and is expected to be controlled by the two vaccines in use in the U.S.

What It Means: The new strain of the coronavirus is a cause for concern because it could lead to a spike in new infections. In the U.K., where it was discovered in September of 2020, it quickly became the dominant form of the virus in London and other areas.

State health officials warn that the variant may already be in other parts of the state. It has been identified in 16 other states in the U.S. so far.

You can read the full news release here.

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