Doctor answers questions about new variant, vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccine

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Several different and potentially more contagious variants of COVID-19 have now been identified in the U.S., including in Michigan. 

According to Dr. Del DeHart, an infectious disease specialist, the state health department is doing all testing for the COVID-19 variants

DeHart of Metro Health says the state would do the testing for variants in the first place, just to identify that they’re here and they only test a percentage of the samples they get for the variants. 

For example, when the state identifies two cases of a variant, DeHart says you can be sure there are more. 

DeHart says he believes the testing for variants done by the state is random, but his hospital specifically isn’t currently testing for them because their goals have not changed, which is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. 

“We know there are variants here,” DeHart said. “As far as we know, the vaccines that we have seen to be reasonably effective. So, I think for our community and Kent County and this region as a whole, the critical thing is that we vaccinate as many people as we can. We just decrease how much the virus will change slowly over time and reduce the number of people that can be infected. I think that we will still need to be reasonably wise about how we socially distance and wear masks for a while.”

One thing that could help in the mass vaccination process is Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine which could soon be approved. 

A single shot makes it far easier to protect millions of people, especially when the second shot is required. The tradeoff, the single shot is less effective.

When the shot is available it begs the question, will you be able to choose which of the three vaccines you take? DeHart says it’ll likely come down to availability. 

“I think the thing to keep in mind, that I always say, is that if you think that if there is something going to be safe, that is not the right word to use. It’s safer. So, when two families have the adults vaccinated, that’s incredibly safer than if they had not been, regardless of the vaccine. So, they’re much less likely to get the infection,” DeHart said. “They’re probably much less likely to get very sick if they do and much less likely to pass it on. Even if one of their kids who haven’t been vaccinated where to get it. I think you can start making reasonable decisions as families and friends to say, well, we can start getting together when people are vaccinated.”

DeHart said one of the biggest issues with getting shots administered continues to be knowing just how many vaccines they will get week to week.

  

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