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First case of UK COVID-19 variant found in South Carolina

According to DHEC, both variants first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa spread easier and quicker than most SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced Saturday the detection of the first case associated with the SARS-CoV-2 variant from the United Kingdom. 

According to DHEC, the case is an adult from the Pee Dee region and has an international travel history. No further information will be released about this case.

This comes days after DHEC announced the first two cases of the South African variant, the first cases discovered in the United States.

According to DHEC, public health officials were notified late Friday by MAKO Medical Laboratory that an SC sample that was determined to be the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom. 

“The arrival of the second SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is a yet another important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still very limited. We must all remain dedicated to the fight by doing the right things to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

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In the release, DHEC says that experts agree that the vaccines work to protect people from the variant, even though the effectiveness is not known at this time. 

At this time there is no conclusive evidence to prove that the B.1.1.7 variant causes more severe illness, according to DHEC. 

This UK variant has been identified in 30 states with 434 cases. 

According to DHEC, both variants first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa spread easier and quicker than most SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The three significant variants being spread in the world currently, originally from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, have different characteristics. 

“We know that viruses mutate to live and live to mutate,” Dr. Traxler said. “That’s why it’s critical that we vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible and each of us do our part by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, avoiding crowds, washing our hands, getting tested often, and when it’s our time, getting vaccinated. Science tells us that these actions work to prevent the spread of the virus, no matter the strain.”

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DHEC, in coordination with the CDC, will continue to watch out for COVID-19 variants. Public health officials will provide more information as it becomes available. 

Safe and effective vaccines and following public health guidance are how to win the fight against COVID-19. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine go to scdhec.gov/vaxfacts. For the latest information about COVID-19, go to scdhec.gov/COVID19