B.1.617 COVID-19 variant detected in Nebraska

Nebraska News

FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. Doctors at Kyoto University Hospital said Thursday, April 8, 2021, they have successfully performed the world’s first lung transplant from living donors to a patient with severe lung damage from the COVID-19.(NIAID-RML via AP, File)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) — The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) have confirmed that the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 that originated in India has arrived in the state.

According to a release, the initial case has been identified as a Lancaster County resident who, through epidemiological investigations, has been linked to international travelers.

The investigation is still ongoing.

International travelers should seek testing within 3-5 days after return to Nebraska. Testing platforms like Test Nebraska and others will still produce a “positive” result for the identified B.1.617 variant (and other variants). B.1.617 appears more contagious than standard SARS-CoV-2 strains. It is expected that vaccinations will remain effective, although some studies show higher levels of antibodies are required to neutralize B.1.617 than the level of antibodies required to neutralize standard SARS-CoV-2 strains.

“New variants bring more unknowns. As new variants are identified globally, in the U.S., and in Nebraska, it reinforces the responsibility we all have to get vaccinated,” said Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone. “As more people are vaccinated the opportunity the virus has to change and mutate diminishes. Vaccinations are working. They are keeping hospitalizations low and helping reduce the spread. We must remain focused on vaccination so we can finish the race and get back to normal.”

A total of 875 of variants of concern have been identified in the state. To date, 764 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, 87 cases of the B1.427/B1.429 variant, 6 of B1.526, 12 cases of the P1, and 6 of the B1.351 variant have been identified in Nebraska.

Nebraskans can register for vaccination here.

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