The UK variant of COVID-19 was recently identified among the samples sent from Guam’s quarantine facilities to the CDC.
So how much does the island need to worry?
Earlier this year, Guam Public Health sent COVID samples taken from people in quarantine to determine if any variants were present.
A total of 61 samples were collected between January and April.
On Monday, Public Health received confirmation that three of those samples were the UK variant.
The UK variant is more transmissible and tends to strike a younger demographic.
However, Dr. Hoa Nguyen, of the Physicians Advisory Group, told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Tuesday morning that for now, at least, there’s no need to worry.
“We just want to reassure the public that this specimen was obtained from the QFAC..so those people who tested positive for this variant…they were in isolation for 10 days before they got released to the public. So there’s no threat to the public at this point,” he said.
Dr. Nguyen also said that the current COVID vaccines are just as effective against the UK variant as against the original strain.
He said this is part of why it’s important for the island to continue its vaccination efforts.
Dr. Nguyen also said that vaccinations are increasingly important as restrictions begin to ease.
He said that an increase in the CAR score is actually expected.
That’s because the COVID vaccines don’t eliminate the chance of getting infected.
But for those who do become infected with COVID, the chances of developing severe symptoms and dying from the disease are greatly reduced.
So even though the CAR score may increase as more people catch the virus, the important thing is that hospitalizations remain low.
Because if for more and more people, COVID simply becomes uncomfortable rather than fatal, then the island is trending in the right direction.
“What the vaccine does is it prevents most of the infection from getting to you, but you get it. You won’t be so sick, so the hospital admissions should be low. So as we go towards a lot of vaccinations…as we go to sixty…seventy…eighty percent vaccinated rate percentage on Guam, you might see the CAR score be higher but the hospital admission be much lower. That’s why we encourage people that if you’re sick, stay home and don’t go to work, go get tested so we can try to keep the CAR score as low as possible. But you will see a little bit of separation between the CAR score and the hospital admissions as the rate of immunization goes up and we relax the restrictions,” Dr. Nguyen said.