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B.1.617 variant confirmed in Iowa but not 'variant of concern,' IDPH says

Two individuals in Jefferson County have been diagnosed with the B.1.617 variant, which originated in India.

IOWA, USA — The Iowa Department of Public Health confirms a third COVID-19 variant is in the state.

In a Tuesday press release, IDPH officials said the B.1.617 variant, which originated in India, was detected in two Jefferson County residents: an adult 18 to 40 years old and an older adult 61 to 80 years old.

"B.1.617 is not designated as a 'variant of concern,' indicating that there is not currently evidence of increased transmissibility or more severe disease caused by this variant," IDPH said. "However, we share this information as a matter of public interest given the virus impact and newly issued travel restrictions to India. The P.1 and B.1.1.7 variant strains which were previously confirmed by IDPH are considered 'variants of concern.'"

The individuals have been notified of their diagnosis and the State Hygienic Lab is conducting sequencing to "understand what strains are circulating here in Iowa and contribute to the understanding of COVID-19 activity in the United States."

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The P.1. variant was confirmed in Iowa in April, and the B.1.1.7 variant was confirmed in February.

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to prevent this, or any other currently circulating strain of the virus from spreading through the population," IDPH State Medical Director and Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said in a statement. "Since the vaccine is now open to all Iowans over the age of 16, we have the opportunity to use this tool to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities."

IDPH is asking Iowans to continue COVID-19 safety measures, including:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Wear a mask or face covering
  • Practice social distancing with those outside your household
  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Get tested if you are exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, review CDC guidelines here

RELATED: How and where to find a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Iowa

RELATED: FDA could authorize Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 to 15 by next week

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