First cases of India COVID-19 variant detected at LSU Health Shreveport

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 12:01 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - On Friday, May 21, LSU Health Shreveport reported doctors there have identified two cases of the COVID-19 variant from India (B.1.617.2), which they say is spreading quickly across the globe.

LSU Health Shreveport officials also say the “UK variant” (B.1.1.7) continues to be the dominant strain in north Louisiana, as is the case for much of the U.S. right now.

To date, LSU Health Shreveport’s Center for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) has processed more than 331,000 COVID-19 tests, 7,629 of which have been positive. Scientist have decoded the genome sequences for more than 2,640 of these samples, which represents 56% of all viral genomic surveillance data for the state.

“Continued public health surveillance through genome sequencing for viral variants remains an important mission of CEVT at LSU Health Shreveport to help protect the region and entire state during this pandemic,” said Dr. Chris Kevil, vice chancellor for research at LSU Health Shreveport.

Health officials say the appearance of the India variant in north Louisiana and north Texas is concerning because it’s believed to be more transmissible than other variants. Because of its rapid spread across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the strain as a Variant of Concern; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not followed suit at this time.

Officials at LSU Health Shreveport encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

While the Indian strain of the very is highly transmissible, health officials say early lab studies show the COVID-19 vaccines provide good protection from it.

“Importantly, even though some of these variants, such as P.1, are able to re-infect people who already had recovered from an earlier case of COVID-19, our current vaccines do a magnificent job protecting people from severe disease,” said Dr. Kamil, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSU Health Shreveport.

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