Recent lab results may confirm what epidemiologists have suspected: The more transmissible strain of the coronavirus that originated in the United Kingdom is in Oklahoma.
A research lab found mutations in test samples from Oklahomans consistent with the United Kingdom variant. State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must confirm the results under different testing protocols before the strain’s presence is made official.
"We have now communicated to labs the importance of being on the lookout for what we would call suspicious test results or circumstances, situations. Obviously, that could include people that have a history of international travel," Taylor said.
Taylor said there’s a very real possibility the U.K. strain could become the dominant form of the virus in Oklahoma, making it even more important people follow precautions like wearing masks and staying 6 feet away from other people.
"Basically, what it comes down to is perhaps staying at 5 and a half feet and wearing a mask and interacting with somebody for 14 and a half minutes — in the past, maybe that was OK. But with the new strain, that may end up putting you at risk," Taylor said.
So far, there’s no evidence suggesting COVID-19 vaccines won’t be effective against new strains of the virus.