Health officials detect UK COVID variant on Navajo Nation | KOB 4

Health officials detect UK COVID variant on Navajo Nation

Diana Castillo
Updated: March 31, 2021 10:33 PM
Created: March 31, 2021 08:55 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M. — The B.1.1.7 variant, commonly known as the U.K. variant, was identified on the Navajo Nation from a COVID-19 test sample, Navajo officials announced Tuesday.

“The first important thing to know is that this variant does spread easily and more quickly than other variants. This can lead to more cases and more people who may need clinical care," said Dr. Laura Hammitt, with Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. 

Contact tracing was conducted, but no further spread was identified. The person who tested positive for the variant had received their COVID-19 vaccine over a month ago.  

"The vaccines provide a broader immune response and so even if the antibodies that we make aren’t perfectly matched to the new variant strain, the response is still powerful enough to protect against serious disease and death," Hammitt said.

While surrounding states are opening up more, the Navajo Nation is taking smaller steps to get there.

"I know people want to travel, but now is not the time to stop doing what has kept these numbers down here on the Navajo Nation and I just want to commend the Navajo people for adhering to these protocols and I think the more and more people we vaccinate, the better it will be here on Navajo," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

Over 200,000 vaccine doses have been administered to the Navajo people. With this new variant, health officials said it's no time to panic, but to stay cautious.  

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