By HENRY OWINO
A new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a man who is in his 20s in Colorado, USA. The new variant was discovered on Tuesday, December 29 and the patient is currently in isolation in Elbert County.
Jared Polis, Colorado Governor confirmed the patient with the new strain and said section of researchers believes it could be more transmissible than the others. The individual is a male but has no any history of travel.
This could be a pointer that the man acquired the disease through community spread and this suggests the new variant is already spreading in the US. Section of countries, for instance, China, has slapped travel bans on countries where the variant has been reported.
Mr Polis made the remarks to the media on December 14 when he commissioned vaccination in Colorado.
“Public health officials are doing a thorough investigation. The person is recovering in isolation and will remain there until cleared. He has no close contacts identified so far but health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contacts through interviews and contact tracing,” Mr Polis said.
“There is a lot we don’t know about this new strain, but scientists in the UK are cautioning that it is significantly more contagious,” he added.
The new strain was first discovered in the UK in September 2020 and researchers are still investigating whether or not it is more dangerous than others.
In Africa, the variant has been identified in South Africa. This has led to yet stringent measures such as curfews in most part of the country.
In an emotional address Monday, 28 December night, President Cyril Ramaphosa reintroduced bans on public gatherings and alcohol sales, made mask-wearing mandatory in public places and lengthened a curfew as a second wave of Coronavirus cases sweeps Africa’s worst-hit country at “an alarming and unprecedented rate.”
However, President Ramaphosa did not close the country’s borders as he had during its first wave cases of Covid-19. Cases of variant have also been found in Finland and Switzerland.
Only a handful of countries have banned travel from South Africa. South Africa’s Health Ministry pushed back against assertions that its new variant is more dangerous than Britain’s, saying there was no evidence to support that claim.
The new Coronavirus variant comes at a time when both the US and UK are vaccinating their populations. The US deployed the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines while the UK on Tuesday, December 8, rolled out vaccinations using the Pfizer jab.
US vice president-elect Kamala Harris has been vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine alongside her husband.
Surprisingly, he has no history of travel and medics are currently trying to establish how he contracted the variant that was first discovered in the UK.
On Wednesday, December 30, the UK had approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination using this dose developed in partnership with Oxford University will kick off on January 4, 2021.
The Pfizer manufacturer is emphatic its dose will be able to protect the population from the new variant.