Disease Expert in Lincoln Says Virus Variants Making Inroads in Nebraska

April 15, 2021, 2:40 p.m. ·

Dr. Daniel Smith with Bryan Health in Lincoln. (Photo from Facebook Live)

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An infectious disease expert at Bryan Health in Lincoln confirms Nebraska is seeing more variants of the COVID-19 virus, including one that’s more prevalent than the others.

Dr. Daniel Smith said Thursday there are five variants of concern in the U.S. right now and three that have made inroads in Nebraska. Variants are created when the virus copies itself and changes slightly. There have been 187 cases of the UK variant, 48 of the California variant and two of the Brazil variant.

“Multiple studies have shown that the UK variant is about 50% more contagious and also about 50% more virulent or pathogenic, so you have concern about the increase in severe illness with it,” Smith said.

The good news is it appears the three vaccines are usually effective against the variants. Smith also said if it’s been three weeks since you got your Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to blood clotting. If it has been two weeks or less, there are symptoms to look out for.

“A severe headache, abdominal pain, that would be a sign of having a blood clot in your abdominal veins, leg pains, a blood clot in your legs and shortness of breath for a blood clot in the lungs,” Smith said. “So just monitor for those symptoms.”

Smith said it is extremely unlikely that you’ll have any issues with the J&J vaccine, which has been paused while federal health officials investigate cases of blood clotting in six women. That’s out of almost seven million vaccinations. And he said if you do get COVID again after being vaccinated, it will likely be a much less severe case and you’ll have less of a chance of passing the virus on to someone else.