NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Metro Health Department confirmed two cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 were detected in Nashville as of Thursday, but doctors say this strain is so contagious that there’s no way there are only two cases.
“The fact that we’ve had two cases here in Nashville, means that many other people are already infected and that this strain is spreading widely in Nashville,” Vanderbilt University Infectious Disease Expert Dr. William Schaffner told News 2.
The Tennessee Department of Health reported two cases two weeks ago, they say the cases in Nashville are not related.
However, according to Dr. Schaffner, regular COVID-19 tests don’t show which variant you have, so we wouldn’t know how many people actually have it right now anyways.
“Determining which strain you have, which variant takes extra laboratory work, so we’re not testing all that many people,” Schaffner explained, “You have two cases in Tennessee and two additional cases now in Nashville, there are probably plenty others that we don’t know about.”
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Schaffner said UK studies show the variant is more contagious and with more severe symptoms than the original strand.
“It’ll spread more widely. It will hit more people who are older, other people who have underlying illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and the like,” he said, “So, we may well see, once again, a surge in hospitalizations, because of the widespread nature of this new variant.”
If you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention. Schaffner confirms monoclonal antibody treatments are saving lives.
The positive news is that the existing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should protect from this variant. However, less than eight percent of the state of Tennessee has gotten at least one dose so far.
It is also not 100 percent known if those who have had COVID-19 already can also get this variant.
Schaffner said it is crucial people continue to social distance and wear masks.
“When it’s your turn, please show up, roll up your sleeves, and get that vaccine,” Schaffner concluded.