Georgia reports 1st case of ‘highly contagious’ COVID-19 Brazil variant

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As cases continue to drop, Georgia’s top health care officials are working to get ahead of the newly discovered variant detected in the state. The Brazilian variant is the third one found so far and is said to be the most contagious.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey confirmed the Brazil variant is in Georgia on Tuesday.

“This is where contact tracing is absolutely essential because our 1,500 contract tracers are being fully deployed to follow-up cases particularly when they’re in vulnerable populations,” Toomey said.

Officials say 351 cases of the UK variant, 15 cases of the South African variant, and one case of the variant from Brazil are in the Peach State.

Infectious Disease doctor at Memorial Health Stephen Thacker said we’re going to continue seeing new variants until the spread of COVID-19 is under control.

“The key point is if you have access to vaccine and you can receive it, to pursue it as soon as you can,” Thacker said. “Because the way we get away from having to be so worried about these variants is having our communities largely vaccinated so we break that chain of person to person spread.”

Health officials say the Brazilian variant is highly contagious that’s why getting vaccinated is essential.

“There’s also concern that folks that were infected early on in the COVID pandemic with what we call ‘wild type,’ those antibodies you’re making may not protect you against some of these circulating strains at all,” he said.

Researchers are still studying how effective the vaccines are against the new variants.

“Does a protective antibody that a vaccine makes, is it as effective at preventing harm from this virus? I still think we can’t answer that question confidently,” Thacker said.

Health officials say they will be closely monitoring all of the variants in the state. An uptick in COVID cases is expected after spring break.

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