U.K. Variant Detected in Allegheny County – Why Is It More Contagious?

It's the first, but likely not the only case, of the variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom to be in Allegheny County ,says Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen.


It was only a matter of time.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen announced Wednesday that a single case of the U.K. variant of COVID 19 had been confirmed in a patient here. Contact tracers say the person does not know how they contracted the variant.

“I suspect that it’s been present in the county for a while,” Bogen said. “This news reinforces the need for us all to double down on the efforts we’re taking to control the spread of the virus.”

Experts say the U.K. variant is more contagious because its mutation makes it easier for the virus to stick to and then enter a human cell.

This shouldn’t make you panic, but it should serve as a reminder that now is not the time to let up on “following common-sense precautions,”  infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Prevention Magazine.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the spread of the virus could be reduced by 96.5% if Americans wore a snug surgical mask or a combination of a surgical mask in contact with the face covered by a cloth mask.  It’s an idea that’s enthusiastically endorsed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Biden.

Cases Continue to Fall
Bogen says Allegheny County’s percent positivity remains at 6% and she is “pleased that the case counts in the county continue to decline.” There has also been a decline in hospitalizations.

Demand continues to outstrip supply when it comes to vaccines.

“Vaccine supply is still our biggest challenge,” Bogen said. “Of the supply that has come into the county, as a whole, only 11% of those doses come to the Allegheny County Health Department to distribute.”

County health employees will begin distributing doses of the vaccine to senior high rises managed by the housing authority throughout the county in what she calls a “pilot program that we will expand to other low-income, subsidized senior living facilities, as the supply of vaccine allows.

“As the supply of vaccine allows, more large-scale vaccination clinics will open around the county,” Bogen said. “My goal is to have clinics in the north, south, east, west and center to make sure people don’t have to drive across the county to find a vaccine.”

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