BREAKING NEWS – South African ‘super-covid’ is in the US: Two South Carolina residents with NO travel history or link to each other test positive for highly-infectious variant Fauci warned may escape vaccines
- Two people in South Carolina are the first US cases of the South African variant
- Neither has a known history of travel or a link to the other, the state health department said Thursday
- South Africa’s 501Y.V2 variant is thought to be about 50% more infectious
- But it has mutations to the spike protein that Dr Fauci warned may make vaccines less effective against it
- Pfizer and Moderna both found this week their shots are ‘protective’ against the variant but the protection may wane faster
Two South Carolina residents are the first Americans with the South African ‘super covid’ variant that may make vaccines less effective, state health department officials confirmed on Thursday.
Neither person has a ‘known’ recent history of travel and they have no evident connection to one another as far as health officials can tell.
That’s a worrying signal that the 50 percent more infectious variant has already been spreading silently in South Carolina, if not the broader US.
Dr Anthony Fauci said that he is more concerned about the South African variant than about the UK’s B117 ‘super-covid’ because South African form has mutations that might render vaccines less effective.
Both Moderna and Pfizer said this week that preliminary lab tests suggest their vaccines are ‘protective’ against the variant, but it does diminish the effectiveness of their shots.
Each company has said it is developing booster shots to improve the potency of their vaccines against variants, including South Africa’s.
The South African variant has a mutation in its spike protein (circled in yellow) that makes it more contagious, capable of reinfection and potentially more immune to vaccines. Two people in South Carolina are the first US cases but, because they have not traveled recently and have no evident link, the variant may already be spreading in the US
‘The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,’ said Dr Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director.
‘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.’
One person lives in the state’s easternmost ‘Pee Dee’ region, while the other is a resident of the ‘Lowcountry’ region to the south.
The two are both adults, but the state health department said that it will not release any further details of their identities to protect their privacy.