‘South African variant’ of COVID-19 found in Erie County samples


ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Another variant of COVID-19 has shown itself in a sample from Erie County, officials revealed Thursday.

Scientists at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center laboratory detected the “South African” variant (B.1.351) in two samples taken in March 2021.

The Erie County Department of Health says contact tracers confirmed one of the samples was taken from an individual that had recently traveled to Florida.

Other variants have recently been found from Erie County samples, including strains from California, the U.K. and New York.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein says they expect to find more variants in the future.

“We can expect that genetic sequencing will identify more samples linked to variants of concern and variants of interest,” said Dr. Gale Burstein.

“The variants of concern found in Erie County are known to have increased transmissibility, meaning the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus is more easily spread between people.”

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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