South Carolina studies first recognized US instances of variants from South Africa: Coronavirus Updates: NPR
A health care worker at the Medical University of South Carolina is doing a coronavirus test in Charleston this month. SCUS health officials announced Thursday that the first US cases of the South African variant were discovered in South Carolina. Micah Green / Bloomberg via Getty Images Hide caption
Micah Green / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Micah Green / Bloomberg via Getty Images
Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET
Health officials have identified the first U.S. cases of the coronavirus variant originally discovered in South Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the variant known as B 1,351 was found in South Carolina.
“CDC is early in its efforts to understand this variation and will continue to provide updates as we learn more,” the agency said. “There is currently no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe illness. Like the British and Brazilian variants, preliminary data suggest that this variant can spread more easily and faster than other variants.”
The two cases in South Carolina affect adults in the eastern part of the state, from the Lowcountry and Pee Dee regions, according to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. No details were given about the patients, citing data protection concerns.
“At this point in time, there is no known travel history or association between these two cases,” the agency said.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, the division’s interim director of public health, said the variant’s arrival is an important reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is far from over.
Noting the limited availability of vaccines, she added, “Each of us must redeploy to the fight by realizing that we are all now on the front lines. We are all in it together.”
The coronavirus variants have alarmed public health experts in recent months and pose a new challenge, even as vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have raised hopes in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SARS-CoV-2 strain, which was first detected in South Africa, has now been found in at least 20 other countries. In a briefing on Wednesday, White House officials discussed the variants, noting that in cases where the tribe was involved, early studies indicated that “neutralization can be moderately reduced by vaccine-induced antibodies”.
Dr. Noting these results, Anthony Fauci said, “However, it is still well placed in the protective cushion. So you could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine-induced antibody many times over and still be well within the vaccine’s protection range. And that’s why.” You have seen announcements that the vaccines we use are still effective. “
Earlier this week, Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine would offer protection against new variants of the coronavirus – but the vaccine was more effective against the strain first identified in the UK than the one found in South Africa.
The company said that when its vaccine was used against the South African variant, the vaccine produced about six times fewer virus-fighting antibody titers than when used against other variants.
As a result, Moderna said it would test booster doses of its vaccine, including one that would be tailored to combat the strains that have recently emerged.
Both variants found in Great Britain and South Africa have mutations that differentiate them from the original SARS-CoV-2. But the first one seen in South Africa has more mutations in its spike protein than the one from the UK. Some of its mutations are also present in a variant that was first identified in Brazil.
Researchers have increasingly found evidence that both variants circulating in South Africa and Brazil may bypass the body’s immune system and increase the risk of re-infection, NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff recently reported.
The first US case of the tribe from Brazil was identified in the Greater Minneapolis area earlier this week.
Fauci said on Wednesday that a major concern is to investigate how the coronavirus could continue to change and evolve.