COVID-19 ‘UK variant’ discovered in Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today confirmed the state’s first case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, frequently referred to as the ‘UK variant’. The case was discovered through ongoing genetic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples by the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL).

The case is a 25-44 year old male from Salt Lake County who tested positive last month. The case has no known travel outside of Utah and experienced only mild symptoms. The Salt Lake County Health Department conducted routine case investigation and contact tracing activities with the case.

“We fully anticipated we would find this strain in Utah. We know this strain is more transmissible than previous COVID-19 variants, and our hospitals continue to operate near or over capacity. So now more than ever, Utah residents need to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings.,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist at the UDOH.

In addition, the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use are believed to be effective against this strain.

The UPHL has been performing genomic sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus since the beginning of the pandemic, with the goal of sequencing 10% of the positive COVID-19 samples identified. The lab sequences positive samples it identifies, as well as samples routinely submitted from other laboratories throughout the state. 

# # #