Local doctor break downs COVID-19 variant first seen in UK, now reported in Harris County

HOUSTON – The COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom has now been reported in Harris County. The new strain, known as B117, is considered to be 50% more contagious.

Health experts believe it spreads more efficiently because of changes to its spike protein, which can more easily dock onto human cells.

“The good news is, it does not appear to be any different in how severe a case of COVID folks will get,” said Dr. Linda Yancey, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Memorial Hermann.

According to health experts, finding different strands of the virus is common. Yancey said they’ve seen over a thousand different strains, so far.

“This is just what viruses do they change over time as they move through communities. The vast majority of them lead to absolutely no difference in the behavior of the virus,” she said.

The latest one was found in South Africa just a few weeks ago. However, Yancey said a lot of research and data must still be collected.

“So it is way too soon to be concerned about the strain out of Africa. They are still doing the computer modeling to let us know what the differences are between the more common strains,’ she said.

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