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New COVID-19 variant emerging in the U.S.

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 11:21 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While COVID-19 numbers continue to drop throughout the state of South Dakota, a new threat is on the horizon as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces a new strain of the coronavirus.

The new strain coming out of the United Kingdom continues to spread across the country and around the world.

At least 28 states in the U.S. have had one or more positive tests for the U.K. Strain, including Minnesota.

As of right now, California and Florida have been hit the hardest with well over 50 cases each.

No tests have come back positive for the strain in either North or South Dakota.

The state of South Dakota and Avera Health continue to test for the new European variant as it sweeps across the nation.

“The state sends a certain number of samples a week to the CDC to look for variant strains,” said Dr. David Basel. “And Avera. actually. internally, we’re running somewhere between 25 and 50 samples a week ourselves looking for the U.K. variant right now. And so far, neither the state nor Avera has found any of the U.K. strain”

While it is still uncertain how the U.K. strain, officially called the B117 variant, began, many believe it started with a COVID-19 infection in someone whose immune system was already compromised.

“I think its very, very likely,” said Ravindra Gupta, a researcher at the University of Cambridge. “We found very few virtually no sequences that are related to the B117 variant, in other words it popped in out of nowhere.”

Health officials say a vaccine is still the best method to avoid COVID-19 but this new variant could make things even harder.

Gupta says viruses are already on their way to becoming more resistant to the immune system and vaccines.

There are not too many differences between the current strain of the virus and the one coming from the United Kingdom, although the U.K strain does seem to be deadlier and has a higher rate of infection.

While the U.K. strain has yet to hit South Dakota, the CDC is expecting the strain to become the dominant form of coronavirus in the United States by the end of March.

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