Highly contagious COVID-19 variant found in Champaign County

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CHAMPAIGN – A total of eight cases of the highly contagious strand of COVID-19 known as B-117 have been reported in the County.

The B.1.1.7, or B-117, is a variant of the COVID-19 strand that was first discovered in the United Kingdom and has been called the British Variant. The strand of B-117 has an exponential growth cycle and is considered highly contagious.

Epidemiologists have found B117 is 70% more transmissible than the other strains of COVID-19. Last month, Boris Johnson reported the UK variant could be up to 30% more deadly.

“With reports of this variant already in many states in the U.S., we anticipated its spread here in Illinois,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said last month.  “Early studies have found that this variant spreads more easily than what we have seen with the current prevailing variant.  We are following closely to see if there is evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease or death.  Based on the information available now, the vaccine will still be effective.  Continued masking and vaccination when it is your turn remain our best path to defeating this virus as quickly as possible.”

Cases of B117 have already been reported in Cook County, including Chicago, ranging in ages 12 to 63 years old.

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