Local infectious disease expert shares COVID-19 variant concerns

Posted at 9:55 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 10:55:49-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The vaccination effort is in full swing but top health experts are warning Americans not to celebrate just yet as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in several states.

While hospitalizations and cases in our area have plateaued, they warn new variants could cause another wave of problems.

It’s a race to vaccinate as COVID-19 variants are causing other countries back into lockdown.

Europe is experiencing a third surge due to the more transmissible UK variant.

Experts said the strain, which is 50% more transmissible and potentially more deadly, could become the dominant strain in the United States by the end of March.

It's not just the UK variant. There are multiple homegrown variants out of California and New York City that are also raising a red flag, according to infectious disease doctor James Lawler.

"Once you get over 50% for these more transmissible variants, your outbreak takes off again so the case count in Michigan is going up. The case count in many of our northeastern states and Atlantic seaboard are going up and that is where we've seen these new variants most prominently spreading. I think the rest of the country will follow. We are just a few weeks behind,” said Dr. Lawler.

Nebraska has reported cases of the Brazil variant, UK variant, as well as the California variant.

Dr. Lawler said data shows these mutated strains are doubling every two weeks.

The great news is the COVID-19 vaccine remained effective in protecting people from these variants.

Dr. Lawler said if we continue on this path, Douglas County residents will start to see some form of normal mid-summer.

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