PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The COVID-19 variant linked to massive death tolls in India is now in Oregon. According to data on the Oregon Health Authority’s website (OHA) there are now six confirmed cases of the B.167.2 in the state.
Five of those six cases confirmed are in Region 1, which includes Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook and Washington Counties. “I’m not more or less concerned because so far vaccines are working against all of these strains,” Portland State University Professor, Ken Stedman said.
Stedman studies viruses and says overall no matter the strain of COVID-19, you’re safer if you’re vaccinated.
“That being said, it does seem that some of these variants particularly the ones that are circulating in India do transmit better than some of the normal,” Stedman said. “But that’s also true for the B.1.1.7 the U.K. variant we’ve heard about for a while. And actually if you look at the numbers in Oregon, the numbers of the B.1.1.7 have really been going up.”
On OHA’s website it lists the B.1.1.7. strain as a variant of concern. The variant linked to India is listed as a variant of interest. OHA says there is significant concern this strain is associated with increased transmission and is an area of active investigation.
“Nobody’s safe until everybody’s safe. And so you know variants are going to get around,” Stedman said. “If we can’t vaccinate everywhere these variants are going to keep coming up and there’s always going to be a possibility that some of those variants are not going to be protected with the vaccines.”
OHA says based on scientific research conducted so far, existing vaccines are safe and effective against all COVID variants. Stedman says his best advice is to get vaccinated now. Looking ahead, here’s his take on the future.
“We’ve gotten over all pandemics. Everyone’s not going to die off. It will be ok, the question is how long is it going to last and how much pain, suffering and actually unfortunately death will happen before we get there,” Stedman said.