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UK Covid-19 variant confirmed in Travis County

Thursday, February 4, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Austin Public Health announced Wednesday that the UK variant of Covid-19 – B.1.1.7. – has been detected in Travis County. In a press release about the confirmed case, Austin Public Health notes, “Covid-19 variants have been likely in Austin-Travis County for weeks, after a Harris County man with no history of travel was discovered to have a variant. APH lab testing will detect the coronavirus, but at this time, extended lab testing is required to determine the variant strains under the coronavirus umbrella at this time.” Because not all labs are able to test for the variants, APH’s Covid-19 dashboards will not distinguish cases by variant at this time. In a statement to the press, Dr. Mark Escott took a measured tone, saying, “It is common for viruses to mutate, especially when the original virus is in the community longer. Based on everything we have heard from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the variants are potentially more contagious than the original virus, they are not more deadly. … From our understanding, currently approved vaccines are effective against the variants, and while this may be a reason to reemphasize the importance of prevention measures, it is not cause for alarm.”

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