Colorado identifies Indian coronavirus variant in at least 5 residents

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Health officials in Colorado have identified five cases of a coronavirus variant first discovered in India. The cases involve five females in Mesa County who are all from different households, according to a news release posted Thursday. 

Officials said all individuals are between the ages of 30 and 65 years old and that the cases were identified through the sequencing of test samples. The variant, identified as B.1.617.2, is considered a “variant of interest (VOI).” 

A VOI has a specific genetic marker that has been associated with changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralization by antibodies generated against previous infection or vaccination, reduced efficacy of treatments, potential diagnostic impact, or predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

It is not clear how widespread the variant may be in the U.S., but the CDC has said that it may have the potential to reduce the efficacy of monoclonal antibody treatments, and possibly impact vaccine efficacy. 

Mesa County health officials urged residents who are eligible to continue with vaccination efforts in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

“It’s called cocooning, we use this to protect those who are too young to get vaccinated and others who for various reasons may not be able to get vaccinated,” Jeff Kuhr, Mesa County Public Health’s executive director, said in the news release.

Approximately 36% of the county’s eligible residents are fully vaccinated against coronavirus. 

“We know it’s been a long 14 months, you may be done with COVID-19 and the associated measures, but COVID-19 is not done with Mesa County,” Kuhr said. “We are asking our community to stay committed for Mesa County’s overall and economic health.” 

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