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Dr. Mukkamala sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ despite new COVID-19 variant

This new COVID-19 mutation, first identified in the UK, spreads much easier than the normal strain. It is not more deadly.
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 5:37 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (1/18/2021) - The new COVID-19 variant is in Michigan. The state health department announced over the weekend an adult woman who lives in Washtenaw County has tested positive for this new strain.

The state says she recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant originated.

We want to make it clear there’s no need to panic.

“I felt like when the vaccine came out that we were in the tunnel, but we can see the light at the end of it. I don’t think this mutation changes that. I can still see that light,” Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, President of the Michigan State Medical Society, explained. “We just have to keep going in that direction, but walking carefully as we get there.”

‘Walking carefully’ by continuing health and safety measures like mask wearing, social distancing and washing your hands. And when it’s your turn, get one of the COVID-19 vaccines, which Dr. Mukkamala said are effective against the new mutation.

“The people that get it aren’t more likely to die, but they’re more likely to spread it; because it’s more contagious,” he explained.

Dr. Mukkamala said this new COVID-19 mutation, first identified in the UK, spreads much easier than the normal strain.

“Which means that more people will get it,” he said. “And ultimately, that does lead to more death; because obviously, even if the mortality rate is the same between the original virus and this virus that this one is spreading like crazy, then more people are gonna die, even though it’s not more fatal in and of itself.”

So, he said, if we don’t take this seriously, we can see area hospital beds fill up again, overwhelming the nurses and doctors.

“We all went through this phase where you couldn’t even get your gallbladder taken out because the hospitals were reserving all of their, their space and staff for COVID,” Dr. Mukkamala said. “We don’t want to go back there, we don’t want to go back to deferring medical care, because a hospital is full of COVID patients.”

Dr. Mukkamala also made it clear he expected the COVID-19 variant in our state eventually, after learning it existed. He said it’s already mutated a dozen times. This one just happens to spread the virus easier.

And, while he understands that with this new strain more people will want to get vaccinated, Dr. Mukkamala is asking for patience. He said the Genesee County Health Department is doing its best.

If you want to get an appointment, the best time to try is Mondays between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. That’s when the health department’s online schedule is updated.

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