SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A new strain of a COVID-19 variant has been identified in Illinois.
COVID-19 variant B.1.351, which was first reported in South Africa, has been confirmed in a Rock Island resident.
“We expected to see more cases of variants detected in Illinois, including the B.1.351 strain,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “These variants seem to spread more rapidly, which can lead to more cases of COVID-19 and even another surge. Our best path to defeating this virus as quickly as possible remains wearing our masks and getting vaccinated when it’s our turn.”
Cases of the B.1.351 were first reported in the U.S. at the end of January. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through the current COVID-19 vaccines recognize these variants and may offer some protection. Additional studies are underway.
There are now at least 10 cases of the variant in the U.S., according to the latest CDC data released on Tuesday.
The first COVID-19 variant to be reported in Illinois was the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
Illinois is currently reporting 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant.
Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected, IDPH said. In addition to the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants, the P.1 variant has emerged in Brazil.
On Thursday, 2,838 new cases of COVID-19 were reported with 102 additional deaths.
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