First U.S. cases of more contagious South African COVID variant detected in South Carolina


The newer, more transmissible variant of COVID-19 first seen in South Africa has been found in two patients in South Carolina with no travel history, health officials said.

Officials said the two patients were not connected, meaning the spread of the B. 1.351 variant was already underway.

Health officials in the U.S. and around the world have expressed concern as multiple variants of COVID-19, believed to be more transmissible and potentially deadlier, have cropped up. A third variant, which originated in the Brazilian city of Manaus, has also appeared in the U.S.

“At this time, we have no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease. Like the UK and Brazilian variants, preliminary data suggests this variant may spread more easily and quickly than other variants,” the CDC said Thursday in a statement.

The South Africa variant is believed to be even more worrisome than the U.K. variant that has already been reported in 29 states.

Experts hope that new efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and researchers at universities and the private sector will provide better COVID surveillance and more quickly identify variant cases and how they are spreading.

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