No South African variant cases reported (yet)
By Daniel R. Lucey MD, MPH, FIDSA
Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 52 cases of the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 (“B.1.1.7”) in five states. On the CDC COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants website, which, it says, will be updated every Tuesday and Thursday by noon, the agency reported 52 confirmed cases: 26 cases in California, 22 cases in Florida, two cases in Colorado, one case in New York state, and one case in Georgia. In addition, today at least three more states (Texas, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut) reported finding their initial infections with this UK variant.
The Texas Department of State Health Services posted on its website that a resident of Harris County tested positive. This person had no travel history, meaning that community transmission of this variant virus was occurring, as in several other states.
In Pennsylvania, state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine reported on an official website that a person in Dauphin County had tested positive for the UK variant “after known international exposure.”
Connecticut Governor Lamont announced on his website this afternoon that two persons in New Haven County, ages 15 and 25, tested positive for the UK variant at a Yale University virus sequencing laboratory. One person had traveled to Ireland and one to New York state.
No reports have appeared in the U.S. of anyone with the South African variant (“B.1.351”). We should anticipate that this South African variant will be found soon, as virus sequencing is finally being increased by CDC.
Data are imminent on whether any of the international COVID-19 vaccines, or monoclonal antibodies, are less effective against the UK or South African variants.
Daniel Lucey, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FACP, is a Clinical Professor of Medicine (Teaching) at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, adjunct Professor at Georgetown Medical Center, senior scholar at Georgetown Law, Anthropology Research Associate at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee. He served as a volunteer to outbreaks overseas including patient care in Sierra Leone and Liberia (MSF) during Ebola 2014, SARS 2003, MERS 2013, Plague 2017 as well as H5N1, Zika, and Yellow Fever. Since Jan. 6 he has contributed more than 50 posts to Science Speaks on COVID-19 and traveled to China Feb. 11. With career experiences, he proposed and helped design the 2018-2022 Smithsonian Exhibition on Epidemics.