mcloudy.png
Thursday June 24th, 2021 2:30PM

Virus variant from South Africa detected in US for 1st time

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A new variant of the coronavirus emerged Thursday in the United States, posing yet another public health challenge in a country already losing more than 3,000 people to COVID-19 every day.

The mutated version of the virus, first identified in South Africa, was found in two cases in South Carolina. Public health officials said it’s almost certain that there are more infections that have not been identified yet. They are also concerned that this version spreads more easily and that vaccines could be less effective against it.

The two cases were discovered in adults in different regions of the state and do not appear to be connected. Neither of the people infected has traveled recently, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Thursday.

“That’s frightening,” because it means there could be more undetected cases within the state, said Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. “It's probably more widespread.”

The arrival of the variant shows that "the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, South Carolina's interim public health director, said in a statement. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together.”

Viruses constantly mutate, and coronavirus variants are circulating around the globe, but scientists are primarily concerned with the emergence of three that researchers believe may spread more easily. Other variants first reported in the United Kingdom and Brazil were previously confirmed in the U.S.

As the variants bring a potential for greater infection risks in the U.S., pandemic-weary lawmakers in several states are pushing back against mask mandates, business closures and other protective restrictions ordered by governors.

States including Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky and Indiana are weighing proposals to limit their governors' abilities to impose emergency restrictions. Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Assembly had been expected to vote to repeal Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate, but lawmakers abruptly called off the vote Thursday in the face of broad criticism and out of concern it would jeopardize more than $49 million in federal aid. Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a constitutional amendment to strip the governor of many of his emergency powers.

Governors argue that they need authority to act swiftly in a crisis, and limitations could slow critical emergency responses.

Meanwhile, Nebraska health officials said the state could be days away from lifting restrictions on indoor gatherings, citing a low percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Other states seeing declining infections are also loosening limitations on restaurants and other businesses, though experts have warned the public to stay vigilant about masks and social distancing or risk further surges.

In South Carolina, the state health agency said the variant was found in one person from the state's coastal region and another in its northeastern corner. The state gave little other information, citing privacy concerns, though Traxler said neither of the people was contagious any longer.

“Both were tested very early in the month, and my understanding is that both are doing well,” Traxler said.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, loosened most of the state’s remaining pandemic restrictions in the fall. Spokesman Brian Symmes said McMaster does not plan to order new restrictions based on the discovery of the variant.

“This is important information for South Carolinians to have," McMaster said in a tweet, “but it isn’t a reason for panic.”

Scientists last week reported preliminary signs that some of the recent mutations may modestly curb the effectiveness of two vaccines, although they stressed that the shots still protect against the disease. There are also signs that some of the new mutations may undermine tests for the virus and reduce the effectiveness of certain treatments.

The coronavirus has already sickened millions and killed roughly 430,000 people in the United States.

While the rollout of vaccines has been slow, President Joe Biden has pledged to deliver 100 million injections in his first 100 days in office — and suggested it's possible the U.S. could reach 1.5 million shots a day.

While some European countries do extensive genetic testing to detect these variants, the U.S. has done little of this detective work. But scientists have been been quickly trying to do more, which has revealed the more contagious variants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported at least 315 cases of the U.K.-discovered variant in the United States. Those reports have come from at least 28 states, and health officials believe it could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March. That variant has been reported in at least 70 countries.

The first U.S. case of the variant found in Brazil was announced earlier this week by health officials in Minnesota. It was a person who recently traveled to that South American nation. That version of the virus has popped up in more than a half-dozen countries.

The variant first found in South Africa was detected in October. Since then, it has been found in at least 30 other countries.

Some tests suggest the South African and Brazilian variants may be less susceptible to antibody drugs or antibody-rich blood from COVID-19 survivors, both of which help people fight off the virus.

Health officials also worry that if the virus changes enough, people might get COVID-19 a second time.

Biden on Monday reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, the U.K. and South Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans avoid travel.

___

Stobbe reported from New York.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Virus variant from South Africa detected in US for 1st time
A new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa has been found in the United States for the first time
1:22PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Chicago grants Emmett Till's South Side home landmark status
The Chicago home of Emmett Till, the Black teenager whose 1955 lynching galvanized the civil rights movement, has been granted landmark status
1:10PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Texas takes on Biden but Republicans keep distance from AG
President Joe Biden’s agenda was dealt an early blow by a court in Texas this week
12:42PM ( 45 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Pakistan court orders accused in Daniel Pearl's death freed
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the release of a Pakistani-British man convicted and later acquitted in the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002
1:22PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Hawks G Kris Dunn (ankle) out at least another 2 weeks
Atlanta Hawks guard Kris Dunn will be out at least another two weeks as he continues his recovery from ankle surgery
1:14PM ( 13 minutes ago )
In virus-struck Europe, jabs trigger intense political fight
In Europe beyond the medical complexity, the humanitarian needs and the personal pain, the pandemic is also an intense political fight
1:08PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Pelosi denounces GOP leaders over Georgia lawmaker's posts
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is intensifying the pressure on a controversial Republican freshman
12:53PM ( 35 minutes ago )
US economy shrank 3.5% in 2020 after growing 4% last quarter
Stuck in the grip of a viral pandemic, the U.S. economy grew at a 4% annual rate in the final three months of 2020 and shrank last year by the largest amount in 74 years
12:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
WHO team in Wuhan departs quarantine for COVID origins study
A World Health Organization team has emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic
12:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Navalny defiant as Russian court rejects arrest appeal
A Russian court has rejected opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s appeal against his recent arrest for allegedly violating the terms of his probation while he was recovering in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning
9:33AM ( 3 hours ago )
Pakistani court: Release man accused in Daniel Pearl's death
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the release of a Pakistani-British man convicted and later acquitted in the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002
9:14AM ( 4 hours ago )
In CDC’s backyard, school reopening debate divides experts
In a Georgia community just down the road from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a fraught debate over reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic is raging
8:33AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Interest continues to grow in inaugural poet Amanda Gorman
Interest in 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman and demand for her work hasn't slowed down since much of the world discovered her and her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
8:00AM ( 5 hours ago )
Biden seen likely to keep Space Force, a Trump favorite
President Joe Biden has been working quickly to undo many initiatives by his predecessor
7:05AM ( 6 hours ago )
In 2016, Maxwell said she grew unhappy with Jeffrey Epstein
A British socialite criminally charged with aiding Jeffrey Epstein in his sexual abuse of teenage girls testified in 2016 that she had no memory of anything amiss on his properties, but eventually had a falling out with him
3:25AM ( 10 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Russia detains Navalny's allies, warns social networks
Russian authorities have detained several allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and issued warnings to social media giants after tens of thousands took to the streets in over 100 Russian cities last weekend to demand his release
5:54AM ( 7 hours ago )
Pakistan court orders man accused in American's death freed
Pakistan’s  Supreme Court has ordered the release of a Pakistani man convicted and later acquitted in the gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002
4:10AM ( 9 hours ago )
Russia detains allies of jailed opposition leader Navalny
Several allies and supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have been detained in Moscow
3:55AM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Virus aid, no new taxes top US gambling industry 2021 goals
The U.S. gambling industry wants additional financial aid from the next round of coronavirus stimulus legislation, and promises to fight new or higher taxes on its operations as it works to recover from the pandemic
12:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Poland: Near-total abortion ban takes effect amid protests
A near-total ban on abortion has taken effect in Poland three months after a top court ruled that the abortion of congenitally damaged fetuses is unconstitutional
11:26AM ( 2 hours ago )
US: Germany is 'highly valued' station for American troops
Germany's Defense Ministry says U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in his first conversation with her since taking up his new post that Germany is “highly valued” as a station for American soldiers
10:21AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
AP Exclusive: GOP to stay neutral should Trump run again
The head of the Republican National Committee is declining to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024
9:42PM ( 15 hours ago )
San Francisco to strip Washington, Lincoln from school names
The San Francisco school board has voted to remove the names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others from public schools after officials deemed them unworthy of the honor
8:56PM ( 16 hours ago )
The Latest: Colombia bans flights from Brazil due to variant
Colombia will ban flights from Brazil effective Friday over concerns of a variant of the COVID-19 virus that is circulating in that country
8:08PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Africa secures another 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says another 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the continent through the Serum Institute of India
12:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
Probe into Italy virus response looks into preparedness plan
Prosecutors from northern Italy have traveled to Rome to question the health minister and others as part of their broadening investigation into whether to lay any criminal blame for Italy’s horrific coronavirus toll
11:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
German draft adds to spotlight on AstraZeneca vaccine in EU
Belgian authorities have inspected a factory where AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is produced and a German expert committee has called for offering that vaccine only to people under age 65 for now
11:54AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Health
Chicago grants Emmett Till's South Side home landmark status
The Chicago home of Emmett Till, the Black teenager whose 1955 lynching galvanized the civil rights movement, has been granted landmark status
1:10PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Texas takes on Biden but Republicans keep distance from AG
President Joe Biden’s agenda was dealt an early blow by a court in Texas this week
12:42PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Teen charged in fatal shootings of 5 at Indianapolis home
A 17-year-old Indianapolis boy has been charged with murder for allegedly fatally shooting his father, stepmother, two teenage relatives and a 19-year-old pregnant woman
12:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
State lawmakers are pushing to curb governors' virus powers
State lawmakers around the U.S. are moving to curb the authority of governors and top health officials to impose emergency restrictions such as mask rules and business shutdowns
11:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
Indianapolis teen charged in fatal shootings of family
A 17-year-old Indianapolis boy has been charged with murder for allegedly fatally shooting his parents, two teenage siblings and his 18-year-old brother’s pregnant girlfriend
11:23AM ( 2 hours ago )