What variants of COVID-19 are in Alabama?

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Jan. 25, 2021, file photo, a person wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks near a sign advertising a rapid COVID-19 testing site in Philadelphia. U.S. healthy officials say that most fully vaccinated Americans can skip testing for COVID-19, even if they were exposed to someone infected. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, multiple variants of COVID-19 have been identified within the state in the past four weeks.

Data from the dashboard shows that two variants have been detected in Alabama: Delta and Gamma.

5 instances of the Delta variant have been identified in the Mobile area, while the West Central area of Alabama has seen 1 instance and the Northeastern area 2.

The Delta variant is classified by the Center for Disease Control as a Variant of Concern, a variant for which there is evidence that it spreads easier, causes more severe disease or reduces the effectiveness of treatments or diagnostic detection.

The CDC reports that the Delta variant in particular has shown that it spreads much faster than other variants and is less receptive to certain monoclonal antibody treatments.

Alabama has only seen the Gamma variant, which is classified as a Variant Being Monitored, in the area of Jefferson Co.; according to the dashboard, 33 cases of the variant have been identified.

Variant Being Monitored have either been associated with more severe disease and higher rates of transmission or have had a clear impact on medical countermeasures like vaccines or antibody treatment. This group differs from Variants of Concern in that they are not widely circulating in the U.S. and do not pose a “significant and imminent risk to public health.”

Though these numbers offer a snapshot of the state of variants in Alabama, the ADPH notes on their dashboard that a “relatively small proportion of tests performed in Alabama include sequencing to determine the variant,” suggesting numbers may not be a complete portrayal of variants across the state. A map of variants by geographic location can be seen below. It is worth noting that access to testing impacts these numbers as well.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ADPH.COVID_.Oct_.-4.jpg
A map for the ADPH’s COVID-19 Dashboard shows the geographic distribution of variants of the virus in Alabama. (Courtesy/ADPH)

Masking, social distancing and vaccines are still effective in reducing severity of illness and death from COVID-19 caused by a variant, according to the CDC.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, click here. To find out more about the state of COVID-19 in Alabama, click here.

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