By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
South Carolina health officials announced today the detection of two cases associated with the SARS-CoV-2 variant that first emerged recently in South Africa. These are the first two cases of this variant in the United States.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) was notified late yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a South Carolina sample that was tested at LabCorp and determined to be the B.1.351 variant originally identified in South Africa. Also, DHEC’s Public Health Laboratory tested samples on Jan. 25 and yesterday identified a separate case of the same variant.
“The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together.”
At this point in time, there is no known travel history and no connection between these two cases. Both are adults; one from the Lowcountry and one from the Pee Dee region.
“We know that viruses mutate to live and live to mutate,” Dr. Traxler said. “That’s why it’s critical that we all continue to do our part by taking small actions that make a big difference. These include wearing our masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, avoiding large crowds, washing our hands, getting tested often, and when we can, getting vaccinated. These are the best tools for preventing the spread of the virus, no matter the strain.”
Experts agree that existing vaccines work to protect us from this variant, even if we don’t know precisely how effective they are. At this time, there’s no evidence to suggest that the B.1.351 variant causes more severe illness.
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