The Illinois Department of Public Health is monitoring a new variant in the coronavirus. A new variant in COVID-19 was discovered in the United Kingdom and has since been located in two states in the U.S. No cases caused by this new variant have been confirmed in Illinois yet. As more information is learned, IDPH will provide updates and notify the public if/when the variant is detected in Illinois. Illinois is increasing its surveillance for the variant by performing genomic sequence testing on an increased number of specimens that have been collected.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that the variant may spread more easily but it doesn’t cause more severe instances of the disease or is even more deadly. Ezike says that mutation of virus is common and can emerge and disappear quickly.
Some mutations can emerge tto help a virus spread more easily, cause infection to be more or less severe, or lead to resistance to treatments or vaccines. Based on the information available now, the effectiveness of the vaccine has not changed. Public health experts around the country and in the U.K. say the same measures that have helped protect from the original strain of COVID-19 will also help protect people from the variant. Wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and large gatherings, ventilating indoor spaces, and washing hands frequently remain the best tools for preventing the spread of this virus, no matter the strain.