FOX 2 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed its first case of the UK COVID-19 variant in the state. The patient is an adult female in Washtenaw County who recently traveled to the UK.
The new strain of the virus has already been detected in several other states. Health experts say it is more contagious than other COVID-19 strains we've seen since the pandemic began, in March.
"But beyond that, what we don't know is whether it's gonna cause any more severe or lesser disease compared to the previous strains," said Dr. Leonard Johnson, Ascension St. John Hospital.
Researchers say it's not at all surprising that we are seeing different variants of the virus emerge.
"Viruses have very simple genetic fingerprints, so it changes and mutates very quickly so it's just natural for virus to mutate all the time," said Johnson, the infectious disease chief. "For example, we know that the strains we've had here since the fall are different from the strains we had in the spring."
Because the UK strain is more contagious, the centers for disease control says it could not only become the dominant strain, it could result in more hospitalizations.
"If we follow proper social distancing and masking, and if we do get a better vaccine strategy going, then hopefully we can offset the potential infection of this virus and not see that big boom like we worried about," he said.
Medical experts say while the COVID-19 vaccine appears to be effective with this new variant, children could be more at risk of getting sick.
"Again remember, it's a more infectious strain so it's going there are going to be more infections in both children and in adults, "So there may be just an increase in the total number of cases just because it is a more infectious virus."