BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Concerns are growing about the variant of coronavirus that’s sweeping across the UK and the world.

UK officials warn it could be more deadly, but some doctors say it’s too early to tell.

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Maryland Department of Health officials say it’s already in the state and are urging residents to double down on preventative measures.


Dr. Stuart Bell is the Vice President of Medical Affairs for MedStar Good Samaritan and Union Memorial hospitals.

“It does look exactly the same with fever, body aches, coughs, shortness of breath, but again not any more serious,” Dr. Bell said. “The estimates are [it’s] 50 to 75 percent more contagious”

Last week, state officials announced the first two UK variant cases were detected in Anne Arundel County.

The CDC says it could also become the dominant strain in the US by March.

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“Although it is perhaps more contagious, it doesn’t seem to be more serious in terms of causing illness than the previous strain that we’ve been dealing with,” Dr. Bell said.

But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that the UK variant, known as B117, could be deadlier than other versions of the virus.

Local health officials, however, say there is not enough data at this time to draw a definitive conclusion.

“It’s a little too early to say,” Dr. Bell said.

Dr. Bell added that the good news is, so far, the vaccine already being distributed has proven to work against the new strain. But he is still urging Marylanders to keep their guard up.

“Follow all the guidelines that we’ve been putting out through the CDC, the state health department, health systems,” Dr. Bell said. “That’s your best protection system along with vaccination.”

In a tweet early Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan says nearly 315,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Maryland to date, noting that supply from the federal government remains very limited and continues to urge patience.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.