A variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom late last year has been found in three people in Alabama, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced Wednesday.
The U.K. variant spreads between people more easily but is not thought to result in worse outcomes, and current vaccines should be effective against the strain, ADPH said in a statement. The variant was found in two people from Montgomery County and one person from Jefferson County, according to the statement.
“Viruses mutate, and due to surveillance, it was expected that cases would be found in Alabama,” ADPH’s statement reads. “At this time, many infectious disease experts and the CDC have indicated that the current vaccine should be effective against the U.K. strain. However, this is still being studied. Currently, the U.K. variant has not definitively been linked to worse outcomes of the disease. As this variant is recent to the United States, it is important to follow the outcome of persons infected with this variant.”
Numerous COVID-19 variants are circulating globally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and while there’s no evidence that the variants cause more severe illness or increased deaths, the rapidly-spreading variants could put more strain on hospitals.
“This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada,” according to the CDC.
Moderna, the company that produces one of two vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., on Monday said that its vaccine is effective against all current COVID variants. The drug company Pfizer made a similar announcement on Jan. 20, but the company’s study hadn’t yet been peer-reviewed.