A more transmissible variant of the coronavirus identified in South Africa was first discovered on US soil in two adults with no travel history and no connection to each other, officials said Thursday.
The cases were found in the state of South Carolina, according to a statement.
“The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the battle against this deadly virus is far from over,” said Brannon Traxler, interim public health director for the state’s Department of Health .
Variant B.1.351 has been identified in more than 30 countries, and scientists expected that it could already be available in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement confirming the development. They worked to expand a national system for detecting mutations.
The US’s current ability to detect emerging strains lags far behind many other developed countries.
Scientists are more concerned about this mutation than the better-known variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the UK and is now seen in dozens of US states.
This is because B.1.351 appears to be able to evade some of the blocking action of antibodies produced by current vaccines and synthetic antibody therapies.
While there is still no evidence that B.1.351 causes more severe illness than the more common strains of the virus, the higher infection rate associated with the variant would likely lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
On Monday, Minnesota officials announced the first case of another more communicable variant, P.1, in a person who had recently returned from Brazil.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)