First cases of the Indian COVID-19 variant pop up in North Texas

The COVID-19 virus variant first seen last year in India is now present in North Texas.       

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center said they have identified the first two cases of the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant in patients in North Texas. 

Neither person has recently been out of the country.

The World Health Organization said this strain appears to be more contagious but vaccines seem to be effective against it and the others.

"The identification of the B.1.617.2 variant again reinforces the importance of vaccination – which helps slow the transmission of all types of virus and protects against more severe disease," said Dr. Jeffrey SoRelle, an assistant instructor of pathology at UT Southwestern. "In particular, the vaccines appear to provide protection against more severe disease and death, emphasizing the importance of continued efforts to encourage vaccination."

The researchers found the UK variant continues to be the dominant variant in North Texas with about 24 cases detected out of the 120 samples tested each month. 

That’s followed by two cases of the Indian strain, two cases of the Brazil strain and a single case of each the California and New York strains.

"An important part of forecasting is predicting how quickly the disease will spread, so knowing which variants are prevalent helps us make more accurate models," SoRelle said.

UT Southwestern Medical Center reports its findings to Dallas County Health and Human Services.