UK variant accounts for majority of Washington’s current COVID cases


OLYMPIA, Wash. — As is the trend nationwide, the majority of Washington’s current COVID-19 cases are that of a variant first identified in the United Kingdom. 

In a briefing Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Health said between 60-75 percent of cases are the U.K. variant, though variants from South Africa, Brazil, California and New York are also being detected. The latest report shows there have been 1,380 infections of the UK variant across the state, with 11 of those being in Spokane County. 

Researchers say the UK variant spreads more easily, is possibly more dangerous and is associated with a higher risk of death. It is also proving to spread more easily among children. 

The more contagious strain is hitting young people hard and doctors say they are suffering from more complications. 

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, says the U.K. variant has mutations that allow it to bind more, making it “stickier.” 

Reiner said new variants, especially the UK variant, seem to be more contagious, meaning you can have a briefer or smaller exposure and get infected. 

Doctors say that because this variant is stickier, those infected with it may have a higher viral load. If you have a higher number of viral particles, then it is easier to transmit it to others. 

That is why doctors are urging young people to get vaccinated. Vaccines help reduce viral load, helping slow transmission.

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