Ten additional cases of the South African COVID-19 variant have been identified in association with outbreaks in two Mississippi long-term care facilities—Monroe Hall in Forrest County and Landmark Care of Collins in Covington County.
The South African variant cases associated with these outbreaks were breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated individuals in the long-term care facilities. According to health officials, the majority of these cases had minimal to no symptoms; however, two required hospitalization, and one person died.
“Although one death is extremely unfortunate, the fact that most of these cases have had minimal to no symptoms in highly vulnerable individuals is extremely encouraging,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. “The vaccines currently available provide excellent protection against severe disease. While theses illnesses are caused by variant strains, the outcomes of all these cases would likely be much more severe if they were not vaccinated.”
A total of 12 cases of the more infectious South African strain have been identified in Mississippi.
The MSDH expects to continue to identify variant strains and vaccine breakthrough cases. However, the department reiterated that through increased vaccination and reduction in transmission – especially in long-term care settings – the risk of vaccine breakthrough cases is also decreased.
Outside of long-term care settings, the MSDH has also identified three cases of the Indian variant (B.1.617.2) in Claiborne, Smith and Hinds counties. Investigation is ongoing, but at least two are directly associated with travelers from India and Nepal.
As of May 21, 554 COVID-19 variant cases had been reported in Mississippi, most of which are UK variant. So far there have been 254 breakthrough cases reported in Mississippi out of more than 890,000 fully vaccinated Mississippians—coming out to just under .03%.