How Colorado finds COVID-19 variants

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has identified at least 100 cases of COVID-19 variants.

CDPHE announced Thursday that it has discovered 71 cases of the United Kingdom variant and 29 cases of another variant that’s common in Southern California.

At least 1/3 of the state’s PCR tests are from Thermo Fisher and can identify the U.K. strain.

“There’s potential for that variant to spread more rapidly,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said. “That is why we are tracking it here. There’s also some limited data to suggest it could cause a more severe illness.”

So far, research shows the approved vaccines have been effective at preventing infections from the U.K. variant, according to Herlihy.

But the vaccines may not be able to completely protect against COVID-19 variants from Brazil and South Africa.

Those variants have not been discovered in Colorado, but the state is searching for them through genome sequencing.

“The amount of sequencing that Colorado is doing is actually quite impressive compared to other states across the country,” Herlihy said.

Colorado currently does a complete genome sequence on about 200 to 300 samples every week to look for other variants.

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