JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Department of Health identified two new variants of COVID-19 within the state Friday.
Both variants come from California strains. It includes four cases of B.1.427 (DeSoto, Hinds, Lafayette counties) and three cases of B.1.429 (Copiah, Holmes and Quitman counties).
The variants are shown to spread more easily than the standard COVID-19 strain and there is evidence that they come with reduced protection from vaccines. There could also be resistance to monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 infections.
“We’re watching the California variants very closely,” State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said. He says they are upping their surveillance on variants and are keeping tabs on who have have the variants to see how things proceed.
The discovery comes a week after health officials discovered a South African variant strain in Harrison County.
“It looks like it may have some diminish effectiveness at preventing symptomatic illness compared to the other strains,” State Health Officer Dr. Dobbs said of the South African strain. “It does still seem to show pretty robust protection against severe illness and hospitalization.”
Dobbs said work is currently being done to create a more effective vaccine against this strain. He says the South African variant is the most worrisome, though he believes the one case of it could remain isolated.
The B.1.1.7 strain from the United Kingdom is the most prevalent in Mississippi, with 26 cases as of March 26. While this variant is more deadly, state health leaders say all three vaccines are fully protective against it.