The Indiana State Department of Health announced the first case of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 in Indiana Monday.
The infections from the more contagious strain, first seen in the United Kingdom in the fall, are not more severe but are more contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections of this strain have been identified in California, Colorado and Florida.
The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and most tests will not be reduced by the new strain, according to the CDC. There is no evidence which suggests the strain will affect the efficacy of the vaccine.
According to the CDC, the virus would need to mutate multiple times to reduce the performance of the vaccine. The most effective COVID-19 tests, known as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, have multiple targets to detect the virus, so that even if a mutation alters one of the targets, the other PCR targets will still work. The saliva test provided by IU is another form of the PCR test.
Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner, said the best way to prevent infection is to diligently follow public health guidelines.
“It’s common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19,” Box said in a press release. “Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it’s more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated whenever they are eligible.”