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South African COVID-19 mutant confirmed in Washington, Idaho

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The first confirmed COVID-19 mutant in South Africa was confirmed in both Washington and Idaho as of Tuesday.

B.1.351 mutants are not associated with more serious illnesses or more infections. However, some COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective.

A COVID-19 case confirmed in King County on January 29 was geosequenced at the Washington Institute for Virology and confirmed to be a South African variant on Tuesday. Health officials knew little about the atypical case because they were unable to contact the person through contact tracing efforts.

The number of cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 in Washington has doubled this week, and the B.1.1.7 variant is more prevalent in Washington than the South African variant.

Currently, there are 39 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in Washington, which appear to spread more quickly, worried by health authorities about the potential for a new surge in cases. Currently available COVID-19 vaccines appear to provide protection against viral variants in the United Kingdom.

State and local health officials have called on people to wear proper masks, increase social distance, and double restrictions on meetings to maintain a decline in case numbers and prevent the spread of variants.

“I’m very worried about how this will affect our trajectory,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, Deputy Director of State Health. “It’s time to double our efforts to prevent these variants from spreading throughout the state.”

South African variants may reduce the effectiveness of currently approved vaccines, but according to health officials, these vaccines are due to local strains of the virus and serious illness and hospitalization due to South African variants. Provides important protection against.

According to a preliminary survey modern And Pfizer-BioNTech Further research is needed to confirm these findings, but the vaccine has somewhat reduced its effectiveness against South African variants.

“The safest thing is that protection is somewhat diminished. The decline and its impact on human health are still well characterized,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, director of health at King County, told reporters Tuesday. I don’t think it has been done. ” “The vaccine seems to maintain protection against severe illness and hospitalization.”

The upcoming third vaccine potential may help mitigate the spread of South African variants.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which may be approved as early as next week, has been tested in South Africa and seven other regions and is 85% effective in preventing serious illness in all tested regions, including South Africa. I found out that there is. , Most of the cases were B.1.135 variants.

Lindquist said that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not be as effective overall as the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, but it is very effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and the southern region. State the fact that it was tested in. The tensions in Africa are encouraging.

Health officials emphasized that news of the new variant should not change anyone’s behavior regarding vaccination.

“Our vaccine is incredibly effective against strains that are common here locally,” Duchin said. “Our currently licensed vaccine is highly effective and highly defensive against B.1.1.7, and there is no reason to assume that the South African B.1.351 mutant will prevail. “

Food and Drug Administration on Monday Released guidance For pharmaceutical companies trying to deal with mutants through booster shots and vaccine changes. This move should facilitate the process for manufacturers to know the guidelines they need to follow if they need to adjust their vaccine against a particular variant.

The FDA recommends that companies use clinical trials to determine the efficacy of a vaccine change and compare the changed vaccine to currently approved vaccines.

Health officials said it was imperative to vaccinate people as soon as possible and continue to comply with public health measures to prevent the fourth wave of cases in the state.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other European countries, British variants have led to large-scale outbreaks and national blockades to control them. Health officials said that if residents continue to take precautions, all of them can be avoided here.

“If we stay strong for a few more months, continue to reduce infections, and keep people vaccinated, we can avoid the serious fourth wave and have a much normal summer,” Duchin said. It was.

Currently, the Ministry of Health is genotyping about 2% of all positive COVID-19 tests for variants with the help of other laboratories such as the UW Virology Lab, reaching 5% in the coming weeks. I am aiming for that. With so few samples currently genotyped, it is difficult for health authorities to estimate how many cases of mutations actually exist.

“The proportion of these variants is expected to increase in the coming weeks, but we can’t predict how fast this will occur and how either will change the trajectory of its occurrence,” Duchin said. Says.

So far, no UK or South African variants have been detected in eastern Washington, but the lack of testing in eastern Washington is the result of a limited sample genotyped from the eastern part of the state. Authorities say it is likely to be.

“I believe it is there, but we haven’t sampled enough to detect it yet,” Lindquist said.

But last Friday, the Idaho Department of Health confirmed the first case of a South African variant of a person living in southwestern Idaho. So far, South African variants have been identified in at least 10 states.

On Tuesday, public health director Christine Hahn confirmed a second case of a South African variant in Idaho, but did not provide details about the case.

Testing in Boise’s wastewater system has confirmed the presence of varieties in the state. Public health officials there are asking residents to mask and physically distance themselves to prevent new variants from spreading rapidly.

Idaho now has very different guidelines on how to run restaurants, stores and meetings than in Washington. The restaurant and bar are fully booked and can accommodate up to 50 people.

In Washington, indoor gatherings are limited to five people from different households and are not recommended overall. Currently, the capacity of stores and restaurants is limited to 25%.

On Tuesday, Lindquist said the Ministry of Health was in constant contact with the Governor’s Office on the restrictions currently in place in Washington. Despite the declining number of cases and hospitalizations across the state, Lindquist said there were concerns about doubling UK atypical cases in the state.

All counties in Washington are in Phase 2 of the Governor’s Roadmap for Recovery, with no further phases announced yet.

Let’s look at the city number.

The Spokane Community Health District confirmed 87 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Tuesday.

In Spokane County, 574 residents were killed by COVID-19.

Currently, 58 people are hospitalized with the virus in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed only 20 people on Tuesday, killing two more.

In the population of Salient, there were 254 deaths from COVID-19.

There are currently 19 Panhandle residents hospitalized for the virus.


Arielle Dreher’s report on The Spokesman-Review is partially funded by the Report for America and members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished for free by other organizations under a Creative Commons license. Contact our newspaper for more information. Editor-in-chief.

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