Two cases of the COVID-19 variant first seen in India have been detected in the Dallas area for the first time, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center announced Thursday.
UT Southwestern says the virus appears to be more contagious than older coronavirus variants, although research shows that current COVID-19 vaccines are effective against it.
The two cases in the Dallas area have no history of recent trips, a Dallas county spokesman told The Dallas Morning News. No more patient information was available.
“Identification of variant B.1.617.2 again reinforces the importance of vaccination, which helps slow the transmission of all types of viruses and protects against more serious diseases,” said Jeffrey SoRelle, MD, assistant instructor of pathology at UT Southwestern. “In particular, vaccines appear to provide protection against more serious diseases and deaths, underscoring the importance of continued efforts to promote vaccination.”
The COVID-19 “B.1.617” variant first emerged in India last October and is believed to be responsible for a wave of infections in the South Asian nation in recent months.
The virus, which the World Health Organization dubbed a variant of concern last week, appears to be more contagious than older variants of coronavirus. He also carries mutations that help him evade human antibodies, although initial tests show that vaccines are still effective against him, according to The News.
UT Southwestern has been analyzing samples from coronavirus patients to “give a better picture of the frequency of variants and the prevalence of emerging variants such as the Indian and Brazilian variants,” the hospital said in a press release.
In North Texas, the UK variant remains dominant, as it appears in approximately 70% of the cases sampled, according to the hospital. It is followed by the Indian and Brazilian variants (6% of the samples), while the California and New York varieties are found in approximately 3% of the samples.
The Indian variant is not listed as a variant of concern for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but for the World Health Organization.