Case of South African COVID variant confirmed in Tennessee

Local Coronavirus Coverage

COVID-19 Variants (WKRN News 2 Graphics)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One person in Tennessee has now tested positive for the South African COVID-19 variant, the state’s health department said Thursday night.

In a statement released to sister station News 2, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health said one case of the B.1.351 variant strain of the coronavirus, more commonly known as the South African variant, has been confirmed in the state.

The department has not publicly identified the county where the patient with the confirmed case of the strain resides.

The Tennessee Department of Health also reported that 20 residents of the state have tested positive for the B117 variant strain, known as the U.K. variant, over the last few months.

Health officials have said the U.K. variant is 30% to 70% more contagious, but there is no evidence that it is more lethal. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to “work well” against the variant, the Metro Public Health Department’s interim director, Dr. Gill Wright explained earlier in the year.

While studies have shown the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a 72% efficacy rate in the U.S., that number is 57% in South Africa, where the “highly contagious” B.1.351 variant is dominant.

A third variant from Brazil has been detected in the U.S., but no cases have been confirmed in Tennessee, where there are 13,483 active cases of the coronavirus, as of Thursday night.

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