DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists have identified the first two cases of the COVID-19 variant first seen in India in the Dallas area for the first time.

Researchers said the COVID-19 variant “B.1.617” appears to be more contagious than older coronavirus variants, though research shows current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against it.

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“The identification of the B.1.617.2 variant again reinforces the importance of vaccination – which helps slow the transmission of all types of virus and protects against more severe disease,” said Jeffrey SoRelle, M.D., assistant instructor of pathology at UT Southwestern. “In particular, the vaccines appear to provide protection against more severe disease and death, emphasizing the importance of continued efforts to encourage vaccination.”

The India variant is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by UK public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

It first emerged in India last October and is responsible for a wave of infections across the south Asian nation in recent months. UT Southwestern has  analyzed samples from coronavirus patients to “give a better picture of how frequent the variants are, and the prevalence of emerging variants such as the Indian and Brazil variants,” the hospital said in a news release.

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“An important part of forecasting is predicting how quickly the disease will spread, so knowing which variants are prevalent helps us make more accurate models,” says SoRelle, whose research is part of UT Southwestern’s Genomics and Molecular Pathology.

UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists identified the first cases of the Brazilian variant (P.1) of COVID-19 infection in North Texas using next-generation sequencing technologies along with PCR testing. It’s more transmissible, is less susceptible to antibodies, and is listed as a Variant of Concern by the CDC and WHO.



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CBSDFW.com Staff