Through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services laboratory, Michigan State University has confirmed the presence of the B.1.1.7. coronavirus variant in the East Lansing campus community.
The variant, also known as the U.K. variant, originated in the United Kingdom. Early studies indicate it is more contagious and may cause more severe symptoms than the original strain of the coronavirus. The variant has been found in nearly every state. As of today, there are 616 confirmed cases in Michigan, including in mid-Michigan counties.
While the discovery of this variant at MSU is not unexpected, it does reinforce the need for everyone on campus and in our greater East Lansing community to continue careful health and safety practices that we know can slow the spread of COVID-19, including this variant. This includes wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing, avoiding crowds, getting tested and washing hands often.
Simply put, we all must take personal responsibility and do our part to comply with all campus, city, county and state health measures. We cannot let our guard down now.
It is important to note that viruses are always mutating, and that process can cause a new variant to form. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been found in the U.S. and globally during this pandemic. Fortunately, research shows that the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the U.K. and other strains of the virus.
The state’s announcement last week that Michigan is expanding vaccination eligibility to all adults starting April 5 is welcome news. More information about the state of Michigan’s adjusted vaccination timeline and priority guidance can be found here.
I believe there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, but we must remain vigilant. It is important to remember that scaling up vaccination operations will take time. I encourage you to talk with your health care provider and find credible resources to broaden your knowledge so you can be prepared to receive a vaccine when it is your turn. Also consider joining our next COVID-19 town hall on March 22 at 3 p.m.
If you are interested in registering for an appointment, the vaccination section on the Together We Will website now includes a list of providers. This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it assists you in finding a provider near you.
Together, we will.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.