South Carolina Health officials yesterday announced that a Covid variant documented in South Africa had been found for the first time in the US.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control the two cases it found did not appear to be connected. It added the two adults had no recent history of travel.
South Africa Coronavirus Variant Seen In South Carolina
Experts have expressed concern over the spread of highly transmissible mutations leading to more cases of coronavirus and also more deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveal that the mutation first found in the UK has been documented in 28 states. Also, this week, a variant found in Brazil was seen in the US and President Joe Biden has reinstated travel restrictions for South Africa, Brazil and the UK.
Vaccine companies claim their vaccines would be effective against the variants, with Moderna announcing earlier this week that it would work on a booster shot for the South African variant, out of an abundance of caution. The company added that the antibodies produced by the vaccine remained above the levels expected to be protective.
However, leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci remained concerned about the variant first found in South Africa. He said that the fact that the vaccines remained in the protective range did not give him great comfort.
Fauci told ABC Wednesday, that the one in South Africa troubled him. He added it was something that was really dominating the South Africa scene. He said when one looked at the vaccines that were now available, the neutralizing antibodies that they induced, it was all test tube talk. He said, when one measured that against the South African isolate, it was diminished by multifold in its ability to cover it.
The World Health Organization said in a statement yesterday that cases and deaths were surging in Africa as new, more contagious variants of the virus spread to additional countries.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement that the variant which was first detected in South Africa had spread quickly beyond Africa
He added what was keeping him awake at night right now was that it was very likely circulating in a number of African countries.
Meanwhile, a dozen states have reported a drop of 25% or more in the new COVID-19 cases and the same had been seen across 1,200 counties according to the federal data that was released on Wednesday. According to experts, the plunge could be attributed to increased fear of the virus following it reaching record-high levels as also hopes of getting vaccinated soon.
The Department of Health and Human Services data reveal that new cases have dropped 21% from the previous week which reflected the trend across more than 3,000 counties. It may however, be days or weeks before it is reflected in declines in hospitalization and death.
According to health professionals, it was too early to see the effect from the vaccine rollout which started with the health care workers in late December. Many states have extended the rollout to include older Americans.
They point out that it may be driven by other factors related to behavior, as people settled back home after the holidays. It may also be due to news of hospital beds running out in places like Los Angeles. Also, people may now be more inclined to wear masks and maintain physical distance with hopes of a vaccine arriving soon, brightening.
According to Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs, for the National Association of County and City Health Officials, a single reason was hard to pinpoint, US News reported. She added it may be partly due to people wishing to avoid the new and more contagious variants of the virus, which, according to some experts, could be deadlier as well.