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ICYMI: U.K. COVID-19 variant now in North Dakota

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North Dakota has its first two cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 strain.

The Department of Health says one person contracted the variant after traveling to another state. The second was close contact with the first person.

Both cases were discovered after undergoing genomic sequencing identified in their positive PCR tests.

As of right now, this specific variant is more contagious than the original.

“It’s important to be watching for variants because the impact on the variants really needs to be understood and studied. You know, is the variant more infectious, is one question. But does it cause more severe disease or more death? That’s another question. How does it impact people’s immunity?” said Kirby Kruger, Section Chief of Disease Control for the North Dakota Department of Health.

Kruger says the vaccines are still effective against the U.K. strain.

Chief Health Strategist Dr. Joshua Wynne says this is not unexpected.

While people should not be afraid, he says there are some concerns. For one, it is more contagious? Two, does it lead to more disease? Lastly, do the body’s own defenses protect you against the new variants?

But, there is one thing we do know.

“What appears to be the case so far is that the so-called U.K. variant that the vaccine is still effective. There are more concerns about the so-called South African variant and studies are on-going,” explained Dr. Wynne.

Currently, there is a third case still under investigation.

This particular strain was first detected in the United Kingdom in September.

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