SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Wednesday, sentinel testing found a case of the P.1 variant in Pennington county. It is very likely the Brazil variant is now spreading in South Dakota.
State Epidemiologist, Josh Clayton says the worry about this particular variant is its resistance to the vaccines and the current treatments such as the monoclonal antibody infusion.
“The vaccine induced immunity that is developed after you receive your Covid 19 vaccination may not fully protect against some of these new variants,” said Clayton.
Also, the monoclonal infusion therapy may not work quite as well. Basically the antibodies may not recognize the spike protein on the outside of the variant virus. It’s kind of like a robber changing his appearance so police don’t recognize him.
“When we look at the P.1, there are some additional changes to that spike protein that make it harder for the antibody to recognize. So that is the underlying concern,” said Clayton.
The P.1 is at least twice as contagious as the original COVID virus and scientist believe it can make you sicker. Clayton says the P.1 variant is all the more reason to get vaccinated.
“It might go on to cause infection but the amount of antibodies that is produced really is helpful to alleviate some of the hospitalizations and concerns for individuals to die if they become infected with these variants,” said Clayton.
According to Clayton, the biggest fear among his fellow scientists is that a variant will appear that is so different, the current vaccines will not work. He says the chances of that happening rise as the pandemic drags on, and that’s why there is a push to get enough people vaccinated that we reach herd immunity.
Nearly 41-percent of South Dakotans have completed their vaccinations. Clayton says if you’ve been waiting your turn to get vaccinated, now is the time to sign up and get protected.