MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) – Wisconsin state health officials say another variant of the COVID-19 virus was found in Wisconsin. The South Africa variant, referred to as B.1.351, is more contagious and spreads faster than the original COVID-19 virus.
Health officials don’t know yet whether the South Africa variant is more dangerous, or if the risk of serious COVID-19 symptoms is the same.
This is the second variant of the COVID-19 virus to be confirmed in Wisconsin. Thursday, Deputy Health Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said there were 19 confirmed cases of the UK variant in Wisconsin — that number was up to 26 on Friday. She said that’s a conservative number because a small fraction of coronavirus cases get genome testing to determine the strain of the virus.
The Department of Health Services says the discovery demonstrates the need to remain vigilant against the coronavirus with mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. Health officials say preliminary evidence suggests the Moderna vaccine is less effective against the South Africa variant but that’s not conclusive.
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