South African COVID-19 variant found in Mississippi

MISSISSIPPI — The South African variant is now in Mississippi.

The news comes after several cases of the British variant were detected last month.

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State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the South African variant is more contagious and resistant to the vaccine but it’s not as deadly as the U.K variant.

He said this means we can’t let our guard down.

“It’s another challenge that we face because this is going to be a little more difficult to control with the vaccine and our normal prevention measures,” said Dr. Dobbs.

Dr. Dobbs said the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant specifically Johnson and Johnson.

He said despite this, Johnson and Johnson still offers protection from major COVID-19 infections.

“It looks like it might have diminished effectiveness at preventing symptomatic illness compared to the other strains,” said Dr. Dobbs.

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“It does still seem to show robust protection against severe illness and hospitalization.”

Dr. Dobbs emphasized that the U.K and South African variants are more contagious.

He said while the U.K variant is 61 percent more deadly, the vaccine offers more protection against it.

Right now there are 10 cases of the U.K variant in Mississippi.

Because of these variants, Dr. Dobbs wants people to continue to follow safety measures.

“We need to make sure that we do simple stuff to protect the vulnerable, to protect your family, we didn’t think this would be over anytime soon although we are able to deal with it more,” said Dr. Dobbs.

“This is the time for common-sense precautions.”

Precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.

“This is not surprising, it’s something we’ve anticipated for quite a while, we think we’ll see more of it,” said Dr. Dobbs.