More Contagious UK Coronavirus Variant Might Be In Arizona

Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 4:39pm
Updated: Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 10:48am
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Arizona State University
Joshua LaBaer

Some Arizonans may have the more contagious UK variant of the coronavirus, according to a pattern observed in Arizona State University's saliva-based PCR tests.

But Joshua LaBaer, director of ASU's Biodesign Institute, says verification is still ongoing.

"It is possible that it's been here in Arizona. We don't know yet; we need to do the DNA sequencing to confirm it. But certainly we saw several of those late in December, and we are now in the process of checking that," LaBaer said. 

The UK variant (B117) reveals itself in the ASU test through a telltale pattern.

"If we see this pattern where two genes amplify and one gene fails, that is potentially the UK strain. And we have observed several of those," said LaBaer. 

The team has sent one such sample for verification via genetic sequencing.

Another extra-infectious variant, D614G, has circulated in the U.S. since the summer.

Neither offshoot causes worse symptoms or more deaths, and both respond to vaccines.

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