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Four cases of COVID-19 UK variant identified in Brazos County; what this means going forward

The health district said the patients had mild symptoms and were not hospitalized.

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — The Brazos County Health District confirmed Wednesday that four patients have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 UK variant in Brazos County. 

The four patients actually suffered mild symptoms and did not need to be hospitalized. Three of cases had no travel history, while one person did but it was within Texas.

Brazos County health leaders said the new variant of coronavirus diagnosed in the area comes at no surprise. Dr. Seth Sullivan said the only surprise he's had is that it hasn't been seen in the county sooner.

“We expected this," said Sullivan, the Brazos County alternate health authority. "Variants are a part of viral transmission. We expect to see variants and we’re going to see more.” 

Sullivan stresses this isn't like March 2020. He said people's bodies who have already been exposed to the original virus will recognize parts of the new variant, which will give some cross protection.

"It doesn’t reset the clock by any means," Sullivan said. "We are not going back and starting over. All the work we have put in is for good.” 

This was always a possibility, as viruses will go through changes over a period of time, according to the health district. At this time, the available vaccines appear to identify the mutated COVID-19 virus, it said.

Eventually, as the variant continues to adapt it will have some impact on the effectiveness of vaccines.  

"The further we get down the line and the more mutation there is, the least recognizable it becomes," Sullivan said.

The health district continues to stress the importance of following the guidelines of washing your hands, social distancing and wearing a mask. These have been proven ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"We’re going to see these variations," Sullivan said. "It doesn't change our strategy and what we need to be doing.”

What is the COVID-19 UK Variant?

While studies are still being done, the COVID-19 UK variant is a mutated form of the COVID-19 virus and while research shows it can be more easily spread from person to person, it isn't necessarily more severe than what we've been dealing with for more than a year.

The UK variant was first found in September of 2020, according to the WHO. There is also a new South African variant that has been identified. At this time, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine won't protect against these mutated viruses, but they are still working on research to confirm it according to the CDC.

You can read more about the UK variant and get some answers to your questions by clicking our story below:

RELATED: Scientists trying to understand new coronavirus variant

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