3 Brazil variants discovered in Miami-Dade up urgency to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

Chen Senior Medical Center in Broward and Miami-Dade counties kick off an effort to vaccinate 1,100 senior citizens.

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – A senior medical center in Oakland Park kicked off an effort to vaccinate more than 1,000 seniors with the two dose Pfizer vaccine Saturday. Chen Senior Medical Center in Oakland Park and as their location in Miami are vaccinating people 65 and older who had pre-scheduled appointments.

The urgency to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 comes on the heels of University of Miami researchers announcing that they have detected variants across Miami-Dade County.

“We’ve turned up three variants originating from Brazil,” said Dr. David Andrews of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The three Brazil variants are in addition to the UK variant and now a newly found New York variant. Health officials are sharing their concerns, saying these virus mutations have the potential to resist to immunity, even from a vaccine. “That’s the additional mutation that allows these variants to be what we call, ‘escaped mutant,’ " FIU Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Aileen Marty said. The findings are also raising questions over the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and if recipients would be protected from new variants

Dr. Corey Frederick, an infectious diseases clinical pharmacist with Memorial Regional Hospital, said the new one dose vaccine has proven effective against some variants. And is better than no protection at all.

More variants are cropping up in Miami-Dade County, according to researchers at the University of Miami. (WPLG)

He said the goal behind a third vaccine, the one-dose option, is getting more people protected quickly, and to help prevent more variants from popping up.

“If we truly want to end this pandemic, if we want to return safely back to our normal lives, we are going to have to vaccinate as many people as possible in as short amount of time as possible,” Frederick said.

In their latest statistics posted Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified 500 cases of that U.K. variant in Florida, most of any state in the country.

About the Author:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.