COVID, Viral Variants, and Looser Restrictions?

By Dr. Katie Kuehner, Urgent Care Medical Director

CDC is loosening restrictions on the vaccinated, but then I heard about this “B117 variant”…  What do I  need to know?

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.  B117 is a variant or mutation in the virus, making it just another version of the same SARS-CoV-2 virus.  The CDC estimates that there is approx. one new mutation in the SARS-CoV-2 virus approximately every two weeks.  Not all of these make the news.  They all cause the disease known as COVID-19.  What makes B117 different?

  • It is the same as the “UK variant” or the “Bristol variant”
    • Found in Britain in mid- December and the US at the end of December
  • The variants that matter the most are the ones that cause mutations or alterations in the shape of the spike protein
    • This is called a “E484K mutation” – some of these you may have heard of:
      • UK variant, B.1.1.7 
      • South African variant, B.1.351
      • Brazil variant, B.1.1.248
  • B117 is in the US and is spreading rapidly – it has become the predominant variant this month
  • It spreads more easily and more quickly
    • The mutation in the spike protein is what makes it more contagious.
      • It binds on receptors on the cells better, transmitting better
  • It is not more deadly but causes more deaths?
    • CDC says because it is more contagious, there are more cases, which means more deaths
  • So far we think the vaccines still provide the same protection
    • This is why CDC has loosened restrictions.

However, with decreased restrictions and increases in gatherings, Mother’s Day, Graduation Parties, etc, there is concern we are going to cause another increase in COVID-19 cases and that these would be caused by the B117 variant.

What can we do?  Well, the same things.  Stay home if you don’t feel well.  Social distance.  Wear a mask.  Get vaccinated when you become eligible. Get tested if you have symptoms or are concerned you were exposed.

Exemplar Care is a COVID-19 vaccine location. We are currently scheduling vaccine appointments. Check Out Details>


We offer 3 types of testing, all detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus and all detect all of the variants!
The type doesn’t matter at this time, as all treatment approaches for the COVID-19 disease are the same.  In the state of Iowa, the State Hygienic Lab is sub-typing a select number for “surveillance”.  This means, they are just doing it to document what variants we have in Iowa.

We have testing available at our West Des Moines location – 7300 Westown Parkway, the Des Moines International Airport – 5800 Fleur Dr., and we can come to your business if needed.  Call us at 515-650-4370, or contact us to schedule.

Back to Blog