Yale and state scientists continue testing for variant UK COVID-19 strain


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Some of the state’s top scientists are hard at work in laboratories studying positive COVID samples from people in Connecticut.

With two cases of the variant COVID strain from the UK detected here, the goal now is to locate any more and immediately stop any further spread.

Dr. Pei Hui, Yale Medicine, is Clinical Director of Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories at Yale School of Medicine.

“This is a really a highly transmissable variant of covid originated from UK last summer to early autumn. The virus appears to have a much higher ability to spread,” says Dr. Hui.

And that is the danger. With cases already spiking in Connecticut’s second COVID wave, Dr. Hui says given how transmissible this virus strain is he does expect to see more of it detected in Connecticut.

The testing collaboration with the Yale School of Medicine, Yale School of Public Health and the State Department of Public Health is looking for strange sequencing alterations to the COVID-19 virus, which are the variant from the UK. They could detect other strains.

“Not only just the UK variant, but any other variant of the virus. We’ll be interested to find them, to capture them, to document.”

He says the new virus does not appear to be more deadly and that the current vaccines should work against it.

Governor Lamont announced the first cases of the UK strain, saying they are unrelated and both the result of travel to New York state and Ireland.

Now the goal is to prevent any further spread, which health officials say could snowball with the extremely contagious strain.

According to Governor Ned Lamont, the UK variant has so far been detected in 27 countries and five other U.S. States. These include Ireland and New York, where those two individuals recently traveled.

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