Maui Coronavirus Updates

Colorado Governor Announces First Known US Case of COVID Variant in Colorado Man

December 29, 2020, 1:42 PM HST
* Updated December 29, 1:43 PM
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A variant of the COVID-19 virus, that is believed to be more contagious than previously identified strains of SARS-CoV-2, has been identified in a single patient in Colorado, state officials said.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis and state health officials announced the first known case of the B.1.1.7 in the US. It’s the same variant of COVID-19 discovered in the UK.

Despite being more contagious, symptoms are no more severe, according to the announcement. “In addition, the currently approved vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant,” Colorado officials said today.

The individual is a male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history, according to a press release issued by the Colorado governor.

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Gov. Polis in a news release.

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According to the release, the lab initially performed the diagnostic PCR test on the sample and found that it was positive for COVID-19 “with strong signals for the N gene and ORF1ab (both are detected when a person has COVID-19), but the signal for the S gene was not detected.”

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The release further states that when the S gene doesn’t register in the testing, it is called an “S Drop Out Profile,” and it is considered an essential signature for the variant. The sample was flagged for further investigation.

Scientists then sequenced the viral genome from the patient sample and found eight mutations specific to the spike protein gene associated with the variant.

The Colorado State Laboratory confirmed and notified the Center for Disease Control of the case.

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