More COVID-19 ‘variants of concern’ found in Erie County samples


ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Department of Health says additional COVID-19 findings reported Thursday show there are “additional variants of concern” detected in samples from Erie County.

The findings processed by the University at Buffalo reveal variants from California and the United Kingdom were found in sequenced samples from Erie County. These newly released findings come a week after U.B. found five of nearly 1,000 Erie County samples contained the “California” variant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say these variants show increased transmission and increased disease severity based on hospitalizations.

New data from U.B. shows the “California” variant appeared in 27 samples with the B.1.427 strain and one sample with the B.1.429 strain.

Research also showed the “United Kingdom” variant appeared in 12 samples with the B.1.429 strain.

Two samples also showed a variant originating from New York with the B.1.526 strain.

Officials say 138 usable samples were provided for sequencing data and 42 of the samples included variants. Samples were collected between February and March 2021 from Erie County residents.

Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says now is not the time to let your guard down.

“These new data appear to confirm what we have suspected – that COVID-19 variants of concern with higher transmission rates are circulating in Erie County,” said Dr. Burstein.

“We believe these variants are contributing to our increasing daily new case totals and the resulting rise in hospitalizations. Consequently, this is not the time to let down our guard against COVID-19. Mask up. Limit gathering sizes. Postpone travel. Stay home if you feel ill. And most importantly, get a diagnostic test if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or feel you have had an exposure.”

The samples were processed at the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.

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