Lowcountry doctors conducting data, showing the impact of COVID-19 variants

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Doctors at MUSC say they are seeing what they call “dramatic changes” with COVID-19 variants, causing concern statewide and right here in the Lowcountry.

New data show about 90% of COVID-19 samples collected are variants.

“We might be in store for something like a third wave unless we can get ahead of this,” says Dr. Rick Nolte, Vice Chairman for Laboratory Medicine.

Doctors at MUSC say they are collecting COVID-19 variant data through sequencing, showing variants nearly doubling from March to April.

“Practically everyone that is becoming infected with these more highly transmissible strains may lead to more severe disease,” says Dr. Nolte.

Studies show “variants of interest or of concern” like the UK variant are at a 50% transmission rate because they mutate so easily and quickly.

“It’s important to understand the implications of these variants because we understand that they can be spread from person to person more readily,” says Dr. Linda Bell, SCDHEC Epidemiologist.

Doctors with MUSC say tracking this data keeps an eye how impactful these variants become.

“They can prevent infection and help reduce new mutation development by reducing the amount of virus that’s circulating,” says Dr. Julie Hirschhorn, Assistant Director of the Molecular Pathology Laboratory.

MUSC says they plan to continue collecting sequencing data on these variants locally and statewide with DHEC.

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