South Florida leads the state in cases of the UK variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Broward County shows the biggest numbers, 39 cases, Miami-Dade had 35 and Palm Beach County had 17. The actual number of UK variant cases in each county is actually many times higher, as these numbers represent a fraction of cases selected for additional testing.
South Florida is experiencing the worst of the UK variant, as Florida has the highest known number of cases, followed by California. Current vaccines appear to work on the UK variant, as Florida conducts more variant tests than the majority of states, which explains why so many cases of the UK variant have been found in the state.
Scientists are grappling to better understand different versions of the COVID-19 virus.
Another strain poses a particular threat to South Florida, so this is what to expect at the vaccination process.
P1: known as the Brazilian variant, contains two of the mutations that have researchers worried. One that increases the infectiousness of the virus and one that is thought to aid the virus in escaping a potential target’s immune system.
The variant was first discovered in the U.S. after Minnesota health officials traced it to a recent traveler from Brazil. The consulate estimates that as many as 400,000 Brazilians live in Florida, traveling back and forth between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and major cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil kicked off its vaccination program, but political infighting and President Jair Bolsonaro’s slow response left the nation of 200 million people with less than six million doses.
Given travel patterns to South Florida, if there were to be a sudden surge in cases, it would raise the possibility that the strain is spreading locally.
The biggest source of uncertainty is how it responds to people who have been vaccinated for the old strain. The Brazilian strain contains the same mutations as the South African variant that vaccine manufacturer Moderna, concluded that its vaccine would still be effective, though perhaps less potent.
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