By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
If you were expecting life to get back to normal any time soon, B.1.1.7 or the U.K. strain of COVID-19, may have just changed that.
“So the concern here is that it makes it much harder to contain the spread of the virus,” said Dr. George Conway, Deschutes County Health Services director. “So just at the time that we were hoping as the weather got warmer, and maybe as we got towards spring break, and we could be opening up schools and whatnot, this may impede that.”
Conway says the strain recently found in Bend is more efficiently transmitted than other variants.
The sample was collected from wastewater on December 22nd by Oregon State University, as part of the university’s TRACE COVID-19 project.
Genetic information was not discovered until January 21st, so what took so long?
“We have to extract, then we do a PCR test to see if it’s positive,” said Brett Tyler, OSU Genome Research and Biocomputing director. “If that’s positive then it gets referred to the sequencing lab, it takes about a week for the sequencing lab to process that, and then we had another week gap in there due to the holidays.”
Conway says this will likely require the general public to continue to take precautions, but there is good news.
“B.1.1.7 strain does not appear to be any more resistant to the protective effect of the two vaccines that are being used in the U.S. right now,” Conway said.
Conway did emphasize that this strain has been in the United States for a while, and catching this sample allows Oregonians to prepare.