1st South Africa variant reinfection case confirmed; UK variant likely deadlier, scientists say — 6 COVID-19 updates

The nation's weekly COVID-19 case average is falling at a much faster rate than the number of tests taken, reports The COVID Tracking Project. 

Since Jan. 12, the seven-day case average has dropped by 63.7 percent, compared to the average testing rate, which has fallen 17.5 percent, according to the Tracking Project.

Five more updates: 

1. Seven coronavirus variants found across the U.S. have the same mutation, according to a study published Feb. 14 on preprint server medRxiv. The seven growing lineages have evolved a mutation in the same genetic letter. It's unclear if the variants are more contagious. The study has yet to be peer reviewed. 

2. The U.K. coronavirus variant  B.1.1.7 is likely more deadly than the most common and widely circulating strain, according to research the U.K. government released Feb. 12. "The overall picture is one of something like a 40 to 60 percent increase in hospitalization risk, and risk of death," Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist and scientific adviser to the British government, told The New York Times. That said, the study only included people who tested positive at community testing sites and did not account for underlying illnesses, among other limitations. Overall, the U.K. scientists highlighted a 55 percent to 75 percent confidence in the finding.

3. Researchers have confirmed the first known case of reinfection by the South Africa variant, known as B.1.351, reports The Washington Post. The case involves a 58-year-old man in France who has a history of asthma and first contracted a mild COVID-19 case in September, according to research published Feb. 10 in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The man was hospitalized in January after becoming infected with the highly contagious variant and remains in critical condition. Researchers said such cases of reinfection "remain rare albeit probably underestimated."

4. The Pentagon has approved 20 more military teams to administer COVID-19 vaccines, reports The Hill. The 4,700 military members will help the Federal Emergency Management Agency distribute vaccines across the U.S.  

5. The CDC updated its guidelines Feb. 12 for safe K-12 school reopenings, explaining that proper mitigation can help keep everyone safe, but also urging areas with low community transmission rates to still enforce mask-wearing and socially distanced classrooms.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in U.S.

Cases: 27,641,389

Deaths: 485,338

Americans receiving at least one vaccine dose: 38,292,270

Counts reflect Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and the CDC.


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