BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Infectious disease expert Dr. Wesley Willeford said county officials are seeing more people in Jefferson County testing positive for the U.K. COVID-19 variant than they have before.
“We want to keep tabs on these strains so we know what we are dealing with in our community,” Willeford said.
According to the CDC’S last update, there are 186 confirmed UK variant cases in the state, but local health officials said more and more tests are coming up positive.
“We find that strain more often now than we did early on,” Willeford said. “Early on it was a rare thing and now it is becoming more common.”
Dr. Wesley Willeford said he believes the U.K. variant is driving the current cases in the county.
“25 to 49 age group is really making up the most of the new infections here in Jefferson county,” Willeford said. “We have seen some of the variant strains in hospitalized patients. We have had some of those reports.”
Willeford said it’s hard to say how widespread the variant really is, because right now the county is only doing sample testing. “The test that you have to do to determine if it is the variant strain is pretty resource intensive and pretty expensive, so its not quite feasible to do it on every single sample,” he said.
Willeford said the county is launching targeted ads to encourage younger ages to protect themselves from the strain.
“Getting that vaccine really does minimize the threat of these variant strains,” Willeford said. “It really just kind of speaks to the urgency of getting people vaccinated as soon as they can.”
Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health said they are working to develop laboratory capacity for more variant testing across the state. That will give officials a better idea of how widespread the variant really is.