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What to know about the more contagious strain of COVID after cases confirmed in Michigan

17 total cases of COVID variant reported in Michigan so far

A total of 17 cases of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 had been identified in Michigan.
A total of 17 cases of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 had been identified in Michigan.

DETROIT – A total of 17 cases of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 had been identified in Michigan.

There have been 13 cases confirmed in Washtenaw County and four cases in Wayne County.

READ: New COVID variant in Michigan: 13 cases in Washtenaw County, 4 cases in Wayne County


Will I test positive on a COVID-19 test if I have the U.K. variant?

Yes. The current COVID-19 tests detect an infection caused by the new variant. But they won’t tell you if you have the new variant, just if you are positive for COVID-19. An extra step called genome sequencing is required to tell if someone has a variant of the virus.

Is everyone being tested for the new variant?

No. Just a fraction of samples are actually sent for genome sequencing. The state sequences any sample they test in their lab. They also work with local health departments to identify anyone they feel needs extra testing. Hospitals and regional labs can also send samples they want to have sequenced.

What makes the U.K. variant more contagious?

Experts said the U.K. strain is better at latching on to the receptors in our nose, lungs and digestive tract. That means it might take less time or less exposure to become infected. It’s estimated to be about 50 percent more contagious. That means each person is more likely to infect more people.

Is the U.K. variant more deadly?

Some preliminary research suggested that could be the case, but the answer is still being determined. If the virus spreads more easily and infects more people, that will lead to more hospitalizations and ultimately more deaths.

Will the vaccines still be effective?

So far, experts believe they will. But they’re watching that issue closely. The vaccines can be updated, if necessary.


READ: Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases

Questions about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge


About the Authors:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.