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First cases of South African COVID-19 variant detected in Arizona

Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 12:57:20-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services says the first case of the South African COVID-19 variant has been detected in Arizona.

ADHS made the announcement Friday along with the Maricopa County Department of Health, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The group says the variant strain was detected in two test samples from the state.

According to the CDC, this variant was first detected in the United States in January and spreads at a faster rate. According to the CDC, all indications show that COVID-authorized vaccines appear effective against the South African variant.

However, in a study published in the journal Nature on March 8 of 2021, researchers take a different view. They say "Findings on B.1.351 are more worrisome" when analyzing the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to the South African variant. The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University, the National Institutes of Health, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

ADHS says it is common for viruses to mutate as they continue to spread, and new variants are expected over time.

“Other times, new variants appear and linger,” ADHS said in a release. “It isn’t known how widely the variant may have spread in Arizona. The discovery of this variant in the state is another reminder that Arizonans should get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can.”