Preparing for the coronavirus variants

Maryland has detected 60 cases of highly transmissible mutations
Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 18:08:24-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — COVID cases are down by 76 percent in the last seven weeks and more than a million Marylanders have been vaccinated, but the state has already discovered variants from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil that could pose the next big threat.

“I’m announcing today that in order to expand this screening capacity, the state has just entered into agreements with both the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, which will increase our state coronavirus sequencing volume by more than 100 percent,” said Governor Larry Hogan.

Only 1600 of the variants have turned up across the country and 60 of them here in Maryland.

If the state is going to detect, track and confine them, it must be aggressive and that means those numbers will jump.

“The increase in sequencing will dramatically increase our chances of identifying these coronavirus variants of concern in all of our communities so we anticipate that as we do more sequencing, we will identify more cases,” said Acting Deputy State Health Officer Dr. Jinlene Chan.

While Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may have limited effect against the variants, Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot vaccine has shown promise, and those doses could be shipped as early as next week with the FDS’s approval.

In the meantime, the governor warns this is no time to let your guard down.

“What we don’t want to do is have everyone get complacent and have these crazy variants out there,” said Hogan. “You know, there’s kindling out there. There’s embers and we don’t want it flaming back up again.”