After cases of UK coronavirus variant confirmed in Alabama, local experts urge vigilance

While there are three cases in Alabama, North Alabama does not have any confirmed cases of the variant.

Posted: Jan 28, 2021 6:37 PM
Updated: Jan 28, 2021 7:00 PM

As of Thursday, the UK variant of coronavirus has been detected in at least 27 states.

While there are three cases in Alabama, North Alabama does not have any confirmed cases of the variant. Health officials in Madison County say that's not an excuse to let your guard down.

David Spillers, CEO of the Huntsville Hospital system, said Alabama is heading in the right direction when it comes to getting the virus under control, but he's worried the new variant could change that. 

“I get concerned that people are going to start dropping their guards and going back to doing the things we did pre-COVID, and then, we have an outbreak," he said. "Which could be particularly difficult to control if we get this new variant in here, which is so much more infectious than what we’re dealing with now.”

Both Moderna and Pfizer said their vaccines protect you from the new variant. An infectious disease expert with Huntsville Hospital, Hafsa Siddiqui, said more people still need to be vaccinated to stop the spread.

Siddiqui said since less than 10% of the community is vaccinated, you're not in the clear yet.

“Vaccine by no means makes you resistant to the virus, and if you’re not vaccinated, you’re still at higher risk of acquiring infection," said Siddiqui.

Experts said the virus variants are easier to transmit. Because of this, Spillers said you need to continue to be patient and continue to mask, social distance and avoid crowds. 

"What we’re dealing with now is pretty infectious, but boy, the thought of something being three or four times as infectious than what we’re dealing with, all it takes is one family gathering and all of a sudden, we’ve got 50 people infected, and that 50 can infect another 10, and then, you’ve got 500," he said. 

Siddiqui said we cannot start to relax on CDC guidelines until at least 80% of the community is vaccinated. 

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