New COVID strain that's more easily transmitted confirmed in Harris County man
The first known Texas case of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant, originally noted in the UK, has been identified in a resident of Harris County, according to information from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The adult male resident, who reportedly has no history of travel, was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Results of genetic sequencing the week of Jan. 5 show that the infection was caused by the variant. The case is being investigated by the Harris County Public Health Department and DSHS.
“The fact that this person had no travel history suggests this variant is already circulating in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “Genetic variations are the norm among viruses, and it’s not surprising that it arrived here given how rapidly it spreads. This should make us all redouble our commitment to the infection prevention practices that we know work: masks any time you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene.”
The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom in the fall and appears to spread much more easily from person to person than most strains of the coronavirus, DSHS information reveals. The current scientific evidence is that the variant does not cause more severe disease and that vaccines are expected to be effective against it. It is thought to be responsible for only a small proportion of the current COVID-19 cases in Texas and the United States.