California variant of COVID-19 detected in University of Texas community

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin said Monday that the California-discovered variant of COVID-19, or B.1.429, has been detected among the campus community.

This is the second variant found by UT’s genomic sequencing and analysis facility – the first being the UK variant or B.1.1.7. at the beginning of February.

Email announcement from the University of Texas at Austin informing the campus community of the presence of the California variant of COVID-19

“We are still learning about the B.1.429 variant. There is very little data available at this point regarding its transmissibility, whether it can lead to more severe disease, and the extent to which currently available vaccines protect it,” the UT email announcement said.

The university said those who tested positive for B.1.429 had been notified and were already in isolation due to their previous positive test result. Contact tracing was also carried out.

The genomic sequencing and analysis facility only reviews on-campus testing for variants, but the facility works with local and state officials to alert them that the variant might exist in the wider community.

The school asks students, staff and faculty to remain vigilant by following health protocols and social distancing guidelines, especially as spring break begins.

The New York Times reports that B.1.429 has appeared in 45 states so far and several countries, but has most heavily affected California.

The UK variant was first detected in the wider Austin-Travis County community in early February. There is also a South African variant which was found in Houston.

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