South Carolina officials have announced the United States’ first two confirmed cases of a more contagious coronavirus strain first spotted in South Africa.
There is no known travel history or connection between the cases, both adults, according to a release Thursday from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
One case was confirmed to the department late yesterday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the other was identified by the state’s public health laboratory while testing samples over the past several days.
The variant – also known as B.1.351 – has raised concerns over being more transmissible than other versions of the virus, and potentially evading the immune protection offered by antibodies. Experts say they believe vaccines will still be effective against the 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,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, the health department’s interim public health director, said in a statement Thursday.
The variant has been detected in over 30 other countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Elizabeth Cohen reports: