COVID-19 variant detected in Sheridan County

Dr John Addlesperger, at left, says a COVID-19 variant has been detected in Sheridan County. (Photo from Sheridan Media files)

A variant of the COVID-19 virus – known as the “California variant” – has been detected in Sheridan County.

Dr. John Addlesperger, Sheridan Memorial Hospital chief medical officer, said that variant is the only one detected here so far. But, he said, that likely isn’t the only variant that’s here.

Dr. Addlesperger said the UK variant of the virus is, in fact, the most common variant but hasn’t yet been identified in Sheridan. Although there are already several variants of the original virus, the good news, according to Dr. Addlesperger, is that the available vaccines are as effective against the variants as against the original.

Dr. Addlesperger said viruses are always mutating, with some mutations more successful than others. He said as long as the viruses are circulating among millions of people, there is the possibility for them to change and, in some cases, become more virulent.

He said it’s his understanding that the California virus is about 20 percent more transmissible than the original virus. He said that isn’t a huge number or a huge concern at this time, and it hasn’t been identified as causing increased severity in the illness. But he said the UK variant is 50 percent more transmissible, and he cautions people that just because other variants haven’t been identified at this time, that doesn’t mean they aren’t here.

He said the hope is that people stay as safe and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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