LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) said Friday that the South African variant of COVID-19 has arrived in the state.
A Lancaster County resident was identified as having the initial case of the variant.
DHHS said an investigation into the variant is underway and ongoing.
The South African variant, also known as B.1.351, has been spreading across the U.S. but is not identified as frequently as other variants.
The CDC estimates that less than 1% of specimens are identified as the South African variant across the country.
TestNebraska and other testing platforms will still produce a positive result for all variants of COVID-19.
DHHS added that the South African variant appears more contagious than standard COVID-19 strains.
Vaccinations are still expected to be effective against the variant; however, DHHS said some bench studies show higher levels of antibodies are needed to neutralize the South Africa variant than standard COVID-19 strains.
DHHS said a total of 291 variants have been reported in Nebraska.
To date, 234 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, 54 cases of the B1.427/B1.429 variant, one case of the B1.526 variant and two cases of the P1 variant have been reported in the state.
Additionally, just over 35% of Nebraskans are currently fully vaccinated.
Anyone 16 and older is now eligible for vaccination. Register here.