California variant of COVID-19 detected in University of Texas community

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin said Monday the variant of COVID-19 discovered in California, or B.1.429, has been detected among the campus community.

This is the second variant to be found by UT’s Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility — the first being the United Kingdom variant or B.1.1.7. in early February.

Email announcement from University of Texas at Austin notifying campus community of presence of California variant of COVID-19
Email announcement from University of Texas at Austin notifying campus community of presence of California variant of COVID-19

“We are still learning about the B.1.429 variant. There is very little data available at this point regarding its transmissibility, whether it can lead to more severe illness, and the degree to which currently available vaccines protect against it,” the email announcement from UT said.

The university said people who tested positive for B.1.429 have been notified and were already isolating because of their previous positive test result. Contact tracing has also been conducted.

The Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility is only looking at on-campus tests for variants, but the facility is working with local and state officials to alert them that the variant might exist in the broader community.

The school is asking students, staff and faculty to remain vigilant in following health protocols and social distancing guidelines, especially as spring break gets underway.

The New York Times reports B.1.429 has shown up in 45 states so far and in several countries, but has more greatly affected California.

The U.K. variant was first detected in the wider Austin-Travis County community in early February. There is also a South African variant that has been found in Houston.

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