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COVID-19 variant first identified in India has been found in Arizona

However, researchers don't expect that variant to dominate cases in the state.

A new variant of COVID-19 first discovered in India has made it’s way to Arizona.

Researchers say though, it’s not the one you need to be most concerned about.

Variant first identified in India makes appearance in Arizona

A new variant, called B.1617, that was first discovered in India has been found in Arizona.

So far, two genomes have been sequenced in the state that have the variant. 

“It’s just a successful variant,” Dr. David Engelthaler, director of the infectious disease wing at TGen said. “It will be a problem for other parts of the world that are having a slower rollout of the vaccine for sure, but probably not a major concern for Arizona.”

Engelthaler said like other variants being tracked, the B.1617 variant appears to spread faster and can possibly evade some antibodies.

However, the COVID-19 vaccines are still considered effective against known variants of the virus.

Variant out of the U.K. on the rise

In the early part of the year, TGen’s COVID-19 sequencing dashboard shows that two variants out of California dominated sequenced cases of the virus in Arizona.

Now, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom, called B.1.1.7, is taking over.

“It’s more than half the cases we’ve seen over the past month,” Engelthaler said.

Engelthaler said the variants are in a “survival of the fittest” race. The ones that spread more easily are likely the ones that will cause a majority of the cases, leading to other variants moving to the background.

It’s the B.1.1.7 variant that Engelthaler expects will stick around in Arizona.

“It might be the dominant strain that we have to deal with in a post pandemic world,” Engelthaler said.

Vaccine and boosters will help move beyond the pandemic 

The idea of getting to a point where the COVID-19 virus goes away, is likely no longer reality.

Engelthaler expects the COVID-19 virus will stick around and be a virus we have to deal with like the flu or a cold.

“It is the vaccine and subsequent boosters that are essentially going to turn this virus into a common cold like virus,” Engelthaler said.

Engelthaler said because the vaccines have proven effective, they’ll help move beyond the pandemic portion of COVID-19.

“We have just an amazing way out of this, and really encourage people to go out, get vaccinated,” Engelthaler said. “Maybe you wanted to see how it goes. Now, we have hundreds of millions of people around the world, over a billion people vaccinated. We know the vaccines are very safe, very effective and it’s a way that we all can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

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