The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reported on Friday that the B.1.351 COVID-19 variant strain, commonly referred to as the South African variant, has been confirmed in two test samples from the state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally:
- In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021.
- The United Kingdom (UK) identified a variant called B.1.1.7 with a large number of mutations in the fall of 2020. In January 2021, experts in the UK reported that this variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. It has since been detected in many countries around the world. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of December 2020.
- In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021.
The CDC says that currently authorized vaccines so far appear effective against the South African variant.