SAN ANTONIO – The first known cases of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant have been identified in two residents of Bexar County, Metro Health officials said.
The results of genetic sequencing this week showed that their infection was caused by the UK variant strain. These two cases are currently still under investigation by Metro Health and more information will be provided when it is available.
“With the variant being in Texas since early January, our team has prepared and partnered with the state to test local COVID-19 samples for the different variants at the state lab,” said Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of communicable diseases at Metro Health. “This serves as a wake-up call for the community to continue to do their best to follow the guidelines of Public Health professionals and not let their guards down. We ask the public to please continue to use a face mask, follow social distancing guidelines, and please stay home if they are sick. This pandemic is not over and we must continue to do our part to fight this virus.”
The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020 and seems to more contagious, which causes it to spread easily from person to person unlike the common COVID-19 virus.
According to studies, this UK variant does not seem to cause a more severe illness. Studies show that the current vaccines available to the public are effective against it. At this time, there are very few cases caused by this UK variant in the United States. There are currently under 40 identified cases reported in the State of Texas.