BREAKING: 2 cases of fast-spreading COVID-19 variant identified in Comal County

Two cases of a fast-spreading COVID-19 variant have been identified in Comal County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Two cases of a fast-spreading COVID-19 variant have been identified in Comal County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

On Feb. 10, the Comal County Department of Public Health announced two of 74 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported Feb. 10 were identified as the B.1.1.7 variant that was first discovered in the United Kingdom late last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.K. variant of the coronavirus is thought to spread between 50% and 74% more rapidly than other known variants and was first detected in the U.S. at the end of December.

The variant may be associated with an increased risk of death, though more studies are needed to confirm whether the variant is more deadly than other strains of the virus, according to the CDC.

“This is the first report of variant strains found in Comal County residents. We received this information from Department of State Health Services,” said Cheryl Fraser, Comal County director of public health, in a press release. “Not every specimen is strain typed, but samples are randomly being selected and sent to the CDC for surveillance purposes.”

A Feb. 2 statement from the CDC stated the organization does not know the extent of the spread of the variant in the U.S., and cases have been reported in Texas since January.

Harris County discovered the first known case of the variant in Texas on Jan. 7 in a man who had no history of travel.

Austin Public Health announced its first case of the variant was discovered Feb. 3, while Hays County reported its first case Feb. 10.

According to the CDC, two other variants of the COVID-19 virus are also circulating globally, including B.1.351, which was discovered in South Africa, and P.1, which was discovered in travelers from Brazil.

Both variants were detected in the U.S. in late January, but no local cases have been reported.

Studies conducted so far have found antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants, according to the CDC, and more studies are underway to determine the effectiveness of current vaccines against these new variants.

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