US reports 1st cases of South Africa variant: 7 things to know

South Carolina officials have confirmed two cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, the first known cases in the U.S.

Seven things to know: 

1. The infected individuals live in different counties, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Jan. 28. Neither individual had a recent history of travel, suggesting community spread of the variant, known as B.1.351.

2. The variant is believed to be highly transmissible and shares some mutations with the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7.

3. "At this time, we have no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease. Like the U.K. and Brazilian variants, preliminary data suggests this variant may spread more easily and quickly than other variants," the CDC said Jan. 28, according to The Washington Post.

4. COVID-19 vaccines appear to be less effective against the variant, according to three new studies cited by The Wall Street Journal. 

5. Moderna is developing a new form of its COVID-19 vaccine that could be used as a booster shot to specifically target the South Africa variant. 

6. A new study indicates that the South Africa variant evades antibody treatment. The study, published Jan. 26 on the pre-print server bioRxiv, has yet to be peer-reviewed. 

7. President Joe Biden implemented a new travel ban for South Africa Jan. 25.

More articles on public health:
Cases fall 30% since January peak; most pregnant women shouldn't get Moderna vaccine, WHO says — 8 COVID-19 updates
16 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Jan. 28
States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered: Jan. 28


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