BALTIMORE (WMAR) — The CDC is reporting 63 cases nationwide of COVID-19 caused by variants.
"This is another reason why we all need to keep being vigilant," said Gov. Larry Hogan last week.
Hogan said they are concerned and monitoring the potential spread of COVID-19 variants, though no cases have been detected in Maryland.
"Our public health laboratory is testing for the variant at five times the national rate... are testing every single day," said Hogan.
According to the CDC, a variant emerged in September in the UK with an unusually large number of mutations. It has since been detected in the U.S. The CDC reports 63 cases so far nationwide. including one in Pennsylvania and one in New York.
"While it does appear to spread more easily, we have not seen any evidence that it actually causes more hospitalizations or sever disease," said Dr. Jinlene Chan, the Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services with the Maryland Department of Health.
Johns Hopkins Dr. Raphael Viscidi, who is researching COVID-19 antibody testing, says there could be other explanations for it appearing more contagious.
"You have distinguish between it being more contagious versus it simply being highly prevalent out there and the one you’re most likely to run into," said Viscidi.
He said variants are expected with viruses and research is underway to determine important factors for each.
"How common they are. That’s obviously very important and then the next thing is try and figure out whether, in fact, there is any evidence for a change in biological behavior so those kinds of efforts are a major task to undertake," said Viscidi.
He said one thing we know right now: current social distancing measures are a very important thing in the fight against COVID-19 and the variants.
"It’s [the variant] not going to change public health practice and it’s not going to change the vaccine distribution," said Viscidi.
"We believe the vaccine will be protective against both this strain and others," said Dr. Chan.
Other variants have been detected in South Africa and Nigeria. The CDC is monitoring them closely and is collaborating with the EPA to confirm that authorized disinfectants for COVID-19 also work on these variant viruses.