As of noon on Thursday, the CDC reported that five states had identified variant cases of coronavirus. Alabama isn’t among them, but Dr. Ali Hassoun of Huntsville Hospital said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was already here.
“My suspicion -- we already have it in Alabama,” he said. “Probably, they haven’t yet looked at it or they didn’t sequence it.”
Currently, Florida and California have the most cases, each with at least 20.
While millions still wait to be vaccinated, Hassoun said these strains should not be cause for concern since they will be protected by the current vaccine.
“Most of the evidence suggests that it’s going to be covering that,” he said. “There is actually ongoing studies to look at that in detail, but most of the evidence suggests now that, yes, it’s going to do that.”
Even though the vaccine should protect against these mutated strains, Hassoun said you need to be careful due to the seemingly easier and quicker spread, though it doesn’t appear to be more dangerous.
“There’s really no evidence that it causes more mortality or hospitalizations,” he explained.
According to the CDC, most of the cases are currently in Florida and California, but one case has already been identified in neighboring Georgia. Hassoun said it's only a matter of time if it’s not here already.
“My suspicion,” he said, “we already have it in Alabama. Probably, they haven’t yet looked at it or they didn’t sequence it.”
Whether or not the new strains are here, Hassoun says people should stay focused on the original, since it is much more prevalent.
He added that he thinks the state should speed up the vaccination process, feeling that we’re currently wasting valuable time.
According to Dr. Karen Landers, the state has sent 25 samples to the CDC for testing --- none have had the variant strains detected so far.