UK variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Washoe County

Staff Report


INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – The Washoe County Health District on Friday announced its first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, also known as the UK variant.

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory confirmed the new variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom.

The confirmed case is a female in her 30s whose infection is linked to attendance at a large gathering in Washoe County with more than 60 people from multiple states.

So far, there have been reports of 17 additional COVID-19 infections linked to this event, though not all of the 17 cases are Washoe County residents.

Additional genomic sequencing is underway to determine if more B.1.1.7 cases are confirmed but many specimens are not available for genomic sequencing.

Extensive contact tracing has also been conducted on all confirmed cases linked to this gathering who are Washoe County residents.

“This is a stark reminder that we are not out of the woods with COVID-19,” said Kevin Dick, health officer for the county in a press release. “We suspected that this variant which originated in the UK was present in Washoe County weeks ago but it’s now confirmed. We are recommending that people not attend large gatherings, and follow our guidance and the governor’s directives because we have seen how quickly the virus can spread. It’s important for people to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and always cooperate with disease investigators so we can conduct adequate contact tracing to ensure that we help limit the spread of the virus.”

According to the CDC, this variant that originated in the UK is “associated with increased transmissibility which translates to more efficient and rapid transmission, including an increased risk of death compared to other variants.

The CDC website says that as of now, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants.

More studies are currently underway to see whether the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective against this variant.

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