BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Concern about the variant of the coronavirus, which is common in the UK and around the world, is growing.
British officials warn it could be more deadly, but some doctors say it is too early to tell.
Maryland Department of Health officials say it is already in the state and are urging residents to double up prevention efforts.
Dr. Stuart Bell is the vice president of medical affairs for MedStar Good Samaritan and Union Memorial hospitals.
"It looks the same with fever, body aches, coughs, shortness of breath, but again not more serious," said Dr. Bell. "The estimates are 50 to 75 percent more contagious."
Last week, state officials announced that the first two cases of British variants had been discovered in Anne Arundel County.
The CDC says it could become the dominant strain in the US by March as well.
"While it may be more contagious, it does not appear to be any more serious in terms of the cause of the disease than the previous strain we were looking at," said Dr. Bell.
But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that the British variant known as B117 could be more deadly than other versions of the virus.
However, local health officials say there is currently insufficient data to draw a definitive conclusion.
"It's a little early to say anything," said Dr. Bell.
Dr. Bell added that the good news so far is that the vaccine that has already been sold has been shown to work against the new strain. But he still urges Marylander to keep her watch.
"Follow all guidelines that we have issued by the CDC, the state health department and health systems," said Dr. Bell. "This is your best protection system along with vaccination."
In a tweet early Friday, Governor Larry Hogan said nearly 315,000 doses of the vaccine have been given in Maryland to date. He notes that the federal government's offer is still very limited and continues to require patience.
For the latest information on coronavirus, visit the Maryland Health Department website or call 211. All WJZ coverage of coronavirus in Maryland is here.