OMAHA, Neb. — Creighton University and its clinical partner CHI Health have been contracted by the state to become the third lab in Nebraska to test for COVID-19 variants. Researchers say they are racing to test and find these variants to prevent another outbreak.
"We can find and identify those variants that are of concern to everyone," Creighton professor and the chair of Medical Microbiology and Immunology Dr. Richard Goering said.
As of Tuesday, over 180 COVID-19 variants have been detected in Nebraska. About 140 are the B.1.1.7 strain from the U.K., making it the most dominant variant in the state and the country.
According to the CDC, the B.1.1.7 strain is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the United States. Studies have suggested that the variant is more contagious than the original strain, is possibly more dangerous, and associated with a higher risk of death.
"We're following the rest of the country in terms of an increase in the percentage of B.1.1.7 being seen, but we've also seen some California variants," assistant dean for public health at Creighton Dr. Maureen Tierney said.
When a positive case is tested and found to be one of the new variants, priority is set on contact tracing to prevent spread in the community.
"We need to keep vigilant," Tierney said.
Creighton University plans on testing for variants from around 100 positive COVID-19 tests from CHI Health a week.