South African virus variant found in Michigan

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351 has been detected in Michigan, state officials say.

The variant, which was first detected in South Africa in October 2020, was found in Michigan on Monday. The case has been identified as a male child living in Jackson County, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.

Health officials are working to determine close contacts and if any other cases are associated with the first one.

MDHHS says B.1.351 is believed to be highly contagious and shares mutations with B.1.1.7. Officials say so far, 516 cases of the B.1.1.7 have been identified in Michigan.

Michigan is the 20th state to document a case of the South African variant.

Scientists are working to learn how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against variants.

“We are concerned about the discovery of another variant in Michigan, although it was not unexpected,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at MDHHS. “We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.”

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