Alabama father of two who contracted UK COVID-19 variant dies at 35

A family in Jefferson County, Alabama is in mourning after a father-of-two died from from the British COVID-19 variant, aged just 35. 

Alfonzia Jackson Jr., 35, was diagnosed with the B.1.1.7 variant earlier last week while struggling to live at the UAB hospital.

On Tuesday night, his wife, Ashley Jackson, took to Facebook around 9pm to announced that Alfonzia had died.

‘Lord this day has been hard,’ Ashley posted on Facebook. ‘I wouldn’t wish this on anyone as I said good bye to my amazing husband.’

She continued: ‘Our girls are going to truly miss you, you were an amazing dad and I will keep your memory alive through them and they will always remember you.

Alfonzia Jackson Jr., husband to Ashley and father to two daughters, passed on Tuesday night

Alfonzia Jackson Jr., husband to Ashley and father to two daughters, passed on Tuesday night

Alfonzia Jackson Jr., husband to Ashley and father to two daughters, passed on Tuesday night

Jackson had the UK COVID-19 variant

Jackson had the UK COVID-19 variant

He was on a ventilator in the days leading up to his death

He was on a ventilator in the days leading up to his death

Jackson had the UK COVID-19 variant and was on a ventilator in the days leading to his death

‘You are now our guardian Angel and you are at peace, rest on my amazing husband until we meet again.’

She also posted an emotional tribute featuring pictures and videos of the family, set to I’ll Be Missing You.

WBRC previously reported about Alfonzia Jackson Jr., who Ashley said was admitted to the hospital with COVID symptoms and shortness of breath on January 22, despite her having no idea how he would’ve contracted the virus.

‘My husband just went to work and home,’ Ashley Jackson said. ‘Gas station here and there. Not nothing like going out and having a good time, just a hardworking man.’ 

Rapid tests showed a negative diagnosis for COVID-19, but after surgery to relieve heart failure, a PCR test showed that Alfonzia did have COVID-19.

Ashley Jackson announced Alfonzia's death on Facebook with an emotional tribute

Ashley Jackson announced Alfonzia's death on Facebook with an emotional tribute

Ashley Jackson announced Alfonzia’s death on Facebook with an emotional tribute

Alfonzia Jackson Jr. was admitted to the hospital on January 22 with COVID symptoms

Alfonzia Jackson Jr. was admitted to the hospital on January 22 with COVID symptoms

Alfonzia Jackson Jr. was admitted to the hospital on January 22 with COVID symptoms

The Jefferson County Health Department later called Ashley to tell her that Alfonzia had the U.K. variant.

Alfonzia was placed on a ventilator in the days before he died.

A GoFundMe page originally set up to pay for medical expenses has raised over $131,000 for the family so far.

Mutations of COVID-19 were always possible, as viruses are often characterized by their ability to change and adapt.

It's unclear how the father of two could've contracted the virus, according to his wife

It's unclear how the father of two could've contracted the virus, according to his wife

It’s unclear how the father of two could’ve contracted the virus, according to his wife

A GoFundMe initially set aside for medical expenses has raised over $131,000 for the family

A GoFundMe initially set aside for medical expenses has raised over $131,000 for the family

A GoFundMe initially set aside for medical expenses has raised over $131,000 for the family

Mutated strains from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil have come into focus recently, however, with the UK strain becoming the most prevalent mutation in the United States.

The latest from the CDC reports 541 cases of the UK mutation in the United States in 33 different states.

Meanwhile, there have been just five reported cases of the other significant mutations combined to this point.

The UK variant was initially believed to only be more contagious, although UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since said it may also be more deadly.

The two vaccines currently available in the United States are thought to be effective against the variants, although booster shots might be required down the line.

Last week, a person in New Jersey died of the UK variant, which is believed to be the first death of the strain in the United States.

The person who died in New Jersey had no recent history of any international travel.

Alabama has seen just three confirmed cases of the UK variant, although shortfalls in sequencing of the virus around the country leave open the possibility that the strain is much more prevalent than is being reported. 

The death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 450,000 in the United States

The death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 450,000 in the United States

The death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 450,000 in the United States

The tragedy in that state comes on the heels of some positive developments in the fight against COVID-19.

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University showed a 44 percent decline in coronavirus cases from three weeks ago over a seven-day rolling period.

With vaccination rates remaining relatively low in the United States, it’s not believed to be a factor in the declining numbers, making the outlook even rosier.

Instead, the decline may be able to be attributed to a decrease in travel since the end of the holiday season.

It may also be due to a lower count of cases than those who have actually contracted the virus, with antibodies hopefully protecting those people.

In total, there have been over 26 million COVID-19 cases in the United States, with the death toll quickly approaching 450,000.

Among the variants in the United States, the UK strain is the most dominant, with it spreading to 33 states and counting so far and accounting for over 500 cases

Among the variants in the United States, the UK strain is the most dominant, with it spreading to 33 states and counting so far and accounting for over 500 cases

Among the variants in the United States, the UK strain is the most dominant, with it spreading to 33 states and counting so far and accounting for over 500 cases

WHAT ARE THE ‘SUPER-COVID’ VARIANTS SPREADING AROUND THE WORLD?

UK’S ‘KENT’ VARIANT – B117 

UK health officials announced in December that a ‘variant of concern’ had emerged in Kent. 

The variant is known to scientists as B117, a name derived from the location of its most significant mutations. 

B117 appears to be more infectious than older ‘wild-type’ coronavirus variants. 

Most estimates put it at about 70% more infectious, but some studies suggest it could be twice as infectious, while more moderate projections say its transmissibility is only about 56% higher. 

B117 quickly became dominant in the UK, and now accounts for at least 61% of cases there. 

It has been detected in 60 countries, including the US, where at least 159 cases in 22 states have been identified. 

While its mutations seemed to quite clearly make the variant more infectious, it didn’t seem to change the odds of severe COVID-19 or death. 

But UK health officials said Friday it may be 30 to 40% more deadly, based on how many people infected with it die. The mortality rate for people hospitalized with B117 in the UK appears no different from that of older variants. 

After reviewing the UK’s data, Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert said it may indeed be deadlier. 

However, he and UK officials still say other variants are more concerning because they may make vaccines less effective – which doesn’t seem to be the case with the UK variant. 

SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT – B1351

A new variant was announced in South Africa on December 18. 

It shares a mutation with the UK variant – in a location on its genome known as 501Y – but also has several other mutations. 

The South African variant is estimated to be about 50 percent more contagious and is already dominant there. 

It has spread to at lest 20 countries, including the UK, which has at least 77 countries. 

South Africa’s mutated variant has not yet been spotted in the US – but many experts suspect it is already here. 

President Joe Biden invoked a travel ban on people coming from South Africa in an effort to stop importation of the new variant. 

Dr Fauci says that the South African variant is the most concerning one because it might render vaccines less effective due to mutations that help it ‘hide’ from antibodies developed after vaccination or a previous bout of COVID-19. 

BRAZIL’S VARIANT – P1

The variant first caught international attention when four travelers arriving to Tokyo from Manaus, Brazil, tested positive on January 2. 

The variant has the same spike protein mutation as the highly transmissible versions found in Kent and South Africa – named N501Y – which makes the spike better able to bind to receptors inside the body. 

Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon, has been devastated by COVID-19. Hospitals are running out of oxygen and Brazilian officials have said it is in a state of crisis. 

The new variant accounts for nearly half of all cases there and is thought to be more contagious and possibly make vaccines less effective.  

The variant has been spotted in Japan, France and Germany. It has not yet been detected in the UK or the US – but former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said he suspects it has already arrived. 

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