Two cases of the B117 variant strain of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Tennessee, out of a total of seven specimens sent to CDC for confirmation, reports the Tennessee Department of Health.* This variant was first confirmed in the United Kingdom in September 2020.
*An earlier version of this story stated that five cases of the B117 variant strain had been confirmed in Tennessee. The Dept of Health issued a correction that only two cases of the B117 variant strain have been confirmed.
This places Tennessee among more than 20 U.S. states reporting COVID-19 cases caused by variants.
“Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected to occur over time. This does not change our response to COVID-19 in Tennessee, but serves as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance and practice of simple actions we can all take to prevent further spread of COVID-19: wash hands frequently, limit gatherings, maintain social distance, wear a mask in public and get vaccinated when you qualify to do so,” says the Department of Health.
The CDC reports that multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally. Here is break down of the variants:
- In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant called B.1.1.7 has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.
- In South Africa, another variant called 1.351 has emerged independently of the variant detected in the UK. This variant, originally detected in early October, shares some mutations with the variant detected in the UK. There have been cases caused by this variant outside of South Africa, but it has not been detected in the US.
- In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged and was identified in four travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Japan. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant has not been detected in the US.
“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death. However, an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. Rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential to limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and protecting public health,” says CDC.
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