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New strain of virus reminder to continue following COVID-19 guidelines

IU prof. says virus will likely be with us for years
Coronavirus
Posted at 11:55 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 10:40:32-05

INDIANAPOLIS — With the new strain of coronavirus, first identified in the U.K., now in Indiana, health officials along with those in the scientific community say it is more important than ever to be realistic about how long we will continue dealing with the virus.

"Realistically, we're going to have some coronavirus, some Sars coronavirus, with us for a long time. It won't be Covid-19, but it'll be Covid-20, or Covid-2021," Professor Matthew Hahn said. He's the Director of the COVID-19 Surveillance Lab at Indiana University, in charge of the asymptomatic testing that's being done at the school. He tells WRTV, the new variant makes it even more important to continue wearing your masks and social distancing.

"You are more likely to pass those on than other variants, which is the dangerous part. They don't appear to make you sicker, but you'll get more people sick before you know it," Hahn said.

Eight changes to the critical spike protein, which allows the virus to enter cells, is why this new variant is more contagious. A preliminary study shows Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine can protect against the new variants of coronavirus which hammers home the importance of getting the vaccine when it's made available to you. Professor Hahn predicts it'll be just like getting your yearly flu shot, helping your community as a whole to stop the spread of coronavirus.

"Luckily, this coronavirus evolves much less rapidly than the flu, so we probably won't need to update these vaccines quite as often, but I think we're going to have something like it with us for a very long time," Hahn said.

To find testing sites around the state, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link. Hoosiers age 80 and older, along with healthcare workers and first responders, are now eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. To find an appointment, go to https://ourshot.in.gov.