Three possibly more dangerous and transmissible coronavirus strains are spreading throughout the United States now from the United Kingdom (UK), Brazil and now South Africa. This latter novel coronavirus variant has surfaced in South Carolina involving two infected individuals, reports health officials. The cases aren’t connected, suggests the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Clearly, with two cases involving two individuals with no history of travel to South Africa, the concern now of course centers on the reality that this pathogen must be in wide circulation already in America. One of the infected individuals comes from both the Lowcountry while the other resides in the Pee Dee region. A dangerous situation as these variants may possibly dilute present vaccines—in the case of Moderna, that has been acknowledged. Meanwhile, the new POTUS re-issued travel bans on most non-U.S. travel from the places of origin of the variants, including Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician at the Medical University of Southern Carolina in Charleston, was on the record with AP: “That’s frightening,” reporting there very well could be more undetected cases in South Carolina. The situation is “…probably more widespread.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director, reports that based on the fact that this new variant plus the other ones from Brazil and the United Kingdom mean that “The fight against this deadly virus is far from over.”
Three New COVID Variants
With three (3) new COVID-19 variants scientists are now expressly concerned that these may be more transmissible. Moreover, as TrialSite recently discussed, these variants have already been shown to impact, at least in part on the strength of the Moderna, mRNA-based vaccine. A great majority of scientists and public health officials however are on record that the vaccines will protect against even these variants. But what about testing? There are some signs that the variants could undermine assays not to mention other potential therapies such as monoclonal antibodies. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports at least 315 cases involving the UK-discovered variant here. The variant has also been reported in 70 countries reports AP.
U.S. Not Big on Variant Testing
Although AP reports that some nations in Europe actually perform regular variant testing this isn’t the case in the United States where already about 440,000 people have died due to the disease. American scientists are getting more proactive about tracking and are becoming more adept at identifying more dangerous threats.