Health officials have identified the first U.S. cases of the COVID-19 variant that was initially detected in South Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the variant, known as B 1.351, has been found in South Carolina.
“CDC is early in its efforts to understand this variant and will continue to provide updates as we learn more,” the agency said. “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 variants have alarmed public health experts in recent months, posing a new challenge even as vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have raised hopes in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.