Michigan State University confirmed the presence of the B.1.1.7. coronavirus variant in East Lansing on Tuesday, university President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said via email.
The strain of coronavirus, which originated in the United Kingdom, has been shown to be more contagious and more likely to cause severe symptoms in early studies, according to Stanley's announcement.
The variant is significantly more deadly as well, increasing chance of death by 55%, according to a study published Monday led by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 616 active cases of the U.K. variant in Michigan.
"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," Stanley said in a letter to all Spartans.
"Simply put, we all must take personal responsibility and do our part to comply with all campus, city, county and state health measures," he said. "We cannot let our guard down now."
It is important to note that viruses are always mutating and that process alone can cause a new variant, like this one, to form. Multiple variants that cause COVID-19 have already been found both in the U.S. and globally since the pandemic first broke out.
However, it is to the understanding of health officials everywhere that the current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against this variant, as well as the others.
Michigan is expanding its vaccination eligibility to all adults starting April 5. If any Spartan students are interested in scheduling an appointment, they can find a list of available providers on the vaccination section of the Together We Will website.
"I believe there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, but we must remain vigilant," Stanley said. "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."
This all comes before St. Patrick's Day, which officials have already cited concern about bars and house parties in the area.
This is a developing story. Stay with The State News for updates.
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