COVID variant likely already in Nebraska, officials say

A variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom is likely present in Nebraska, state officials said Wednesday. 
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom is likely present in Nebraska, state officials said Wednesday.

“We can almost say with some certainty that it’s most likely – or some of those mutant strains – are here in Nebraska,” Chief Medical Office Dr. Gary Anthone said.

However, officials say no cases of the new strain – called B117 – have been identified in the state. Cases have been confirmed in Colorado, California, Florida, New York and Georgia.

“We are actively monitoring for this here in Nebraska,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said.

Experts say while the new strain does not appear to be more severe, it could be up to 50% more transmissible.

Anthone said B117 appears to be covered by currently available COVID-19 vaccines and is detectable with current testing. Officials are working on ways to better identify which variant of the virus someone is infected with.

Anthone says there’s no indication the variant will impact any particular demographic more than others.

He says it’s “opportune” that the vaccine came out around the same time as the new strain began appearing.

SEE ALSO: White House report: new COVID variant may have evolved in U.S.

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