A variant of COVID-19 that originated in India has reached Nebraska.
Health officials have confirmed a case of the B.1.617 variant in Lancaster County, according to a press release from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The case was linked to international travelers.
B.1.617 appears more contagious than other COVID strains and some studies have shown that higher levels of antibodies are required to neutralize it. Still, health officials expect vaccinations to remain effective, officials said.
Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska’s chief medical officer, said the emergence of new variants is another reason to get vaccinated.
“As new variants are identified globally, in the U.S., and in Nebraska, it reinforces the responsibility we all have to get vaccinated,” Anthone said. “As more people are vaccinated the opportunity the virus has to change and mutate diminishes. Vaccinations are working. They are keeping hospitalizations low and helping reduce the spread.”
The health department recommends that overseas travelers seek COVID testing within three to five days of returning to the state.
Nebraskans can register for vaccination at Vaccinate.Ne.Gov.
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