The COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant that experts fear will cause another surge in the United States was identified recently in Sheboygan County.
Variant B.1.1.7 was first discovered in England in November of 2020, in the United States in December 2020, and was first identified in Wisconsin in January 2021 where there are currently 78 identified cases.
Researchers believe this new strain spreads more rapidly and easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. A higher rate of transmission could lead to more cases, which would increase the number of people overall who need clinical care. B.1.1.7 may also be associated with an increased risk of death but more studies are needed to confirm this.
There’s no evidence this strain can evade vaccines, but the non-vaccinated should continue to practice mask-wearing and social distancing to reduce exposure. Some experts recommend wearing two masks in crowded areas.