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UTRGV lab testing for UK variant of COVID-19, awaiting results from CDC

2 weeks 3 hours 37 minutes ago Friday, February 19 2021 Feb 19, 2021 February 19, 2021 7:12 AM February 19, 2021 in News - Local

Sixty Texans have tested positive for the U.K. variant of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. John Thomas, the director of the UT Health RGV Clinical Lab, says the state-of-the-art facility in Edinburg has tests that can detect the B.1.1.7 variant, or the U.K. variant.

“We can detect that mutant,” Thomas said. “We have identified some samples that preliminarily look like they are that mutant and what we’ve done is taken some of that material and sent it to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention so they can sequence it.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Sunday the agency has projections that the U.K variant may be the most dominant variant in the U.S. by March.

Thomas says the lab has sent five to seven samples that appear to be mutant to the CDC and are looking to get a definitive answer in the next few weeks.

“As scientists and as physicians, we can’t go out and definitively say this is the variant without looking at the genetic sequence,” Thomas said. “That capacity right now at a nationwide level, is very, very low.

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