Sanford Doctor weighs in on COVID-19 P.1 variant found in Pennington County Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One case of the P.1 (AKA Brazil variant) of COVID-19 has been identified in Pennington County. Following this development, KELOLAND News sat down with Sanford Vice President Medical Officer, Dr. Mike Wilde to discuss what this means for the state.

According to Wilde, the P.1 variant has been known to the medical community for several months now, and is one of many variants that experts are working to keep tabs on. “This variant does have the potential to escape out current immunity,” says Wilde. “It’s not there yet, but it has the potential to pick that up.”

Each year, says Wilde, the influenza virus has around 120,000 variants, which leads experts to anticipate the emergence of a wider variety of COVID variants as time goes on. He says that in terms of the P.1 variant, more study is needed to determine if it actually can develop beyond the immunity granted by vaccines and prior infection.

Wilde says as long as the virus is spreading inside of us, such mutations can continue. The solution, he says, are vaccines.

“That’s really the key point in my opinion,” says Wilde. “If you’re really on the fence or thinking you don’t need to get vaccinated, for the sake of the variants, it’s probably one of the more important reasons you should get vaccinated.”

Wilde spoke with hope about the future development of vaccines. “We see with other vaccines through history, we have the initial vaccine, and then there probably will come down the road a new-and-improved, if you will, that people may get and be finished with COVID vaccination, or it might be less frequent that you need it.”

Wilde was sure to state that this hopeful speculation was just that, his personal speculation. Despite that qualifier, he says that scientists have done an amazing job in getting such a safe and effective vaccine out, and are working steadily to develop further evolutions to keep up with the varying forms of the virus.

CBS News travelled to Brazil as the virus continues to rage in order to document the condition of the nation’s overburdened health system. Watch their coverage below.

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