COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff discussed B-117, the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, and how it is poised to become the dominant strain in Ohio within the coming weeks.
According to the ODH, the state had 92 cases of the B-117 variant virus on March 12. By Thursday, the case number was 797 and is expected to double every 9 to 10 days.
"What these numbers tell me, is we have a sizable portion of the activity that this virus is engaged in that is now is being driven by these variants," said Vanderhoff. "I am confidant that we will see more and more and, quite frankly, I think within the next couple of weeks the variant will be the virus that we are dealing with."
𝗗𝗿. 𝗕𝗿𝘂𝗰𝗲 𝗩𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗵𝗼𝗳𝗳: It is clear that Ohio and the nation are enduring another wave of #COVID19. This time it is being driven by new variants of the original virus. The variants are more contagious and more deadly.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 8, 2021
While Ohio has seen other variants, such as two strains of the virus first detected in California, Vanderhoff said the B-117 variant accounts for the "lion's share" of the total variant cases in Ohio.
This echoes statements from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that were said on Wednesday during a White House briefing. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, "Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B-117 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States," ABC News reported.
Walensky did not specify just how dominant the B-117 variant is, but a spokesperson at the CDC said she was referring to preliminary data that has not yet been released but shows B-117 is the most dominant strain.
Experts believe the B-117 variant is more contagious and likely more deadly, which could help explain why its increasing prevalence in the U.S. has coincided with a rise in cases despite the speed of vaccinations, which have proven effective against the variant.
Nationally, the B-117 variant accounted for around 11% of all cases by late February, ABC News reported. By mid-March, the number had jumped to 27%.
Health officials said vaccination continues to be the best defense against further spread of the virus and its variants.
As of today, more than 33% of all Ohioans have received an initial dose of vaccine and more than 20% of Ohioans have been fully vaccinated, according to the ODH.
"We can win the race, so long as we don't fault. As long as we continue to press on with consistent masking and getting the vaccine," Vanderhoff said.
ABC News contributed to this report.
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