A new variant of the coronavirus originally identified in South Africa has emerged in the United States, posing another public health challenge to a country that is already overwhelmed and losing more than 3,000 people a day to COVID-19.
According to Yahoo News, this mutated version of the virus was found in two cases in South Carolina. Public health officials say it’s almost certain that there are more infections already in the country that have not yet been identified. Health officials are also concerned because this version of the virus spreads more easily, and current vaccines could be much less effective against it.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said that the two cases discovered were in adults in two different regions of the state and do not appear to be related. Neither of those two people infected has traveled recently.
Medical experts are alarmed because it means that there could be many more undetected cases within the state.
The arrival of this variant of the virus shows that “the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, South Carolina’s interim public health director, said in a statement to Yahoo News. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together,” he said.