Two cases of the India variant of the COVID-19 virus recently detected in Iowa

The variant, which first appeared in India, has been detected in Jefferson County.

Brady Osborne, News Reporter

The Iowa Department of Public Health has identified two cases of the India variant of the coronavirus, formally called SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617, in Iowa.

Two new cases of the variant were reported recently in Jefferson County, the department announced Tuesday. This variant, first detected in India, first showed up in the U.S. in early April.

The variant is not yet classified as a “variant of concern,” as there is no evidence of increased transmissibility or more severe symptoms caused by the variant, IDPH said in the release.

These two cases come at the same time as India is struggling to contain the virus.

According to AP News, as of Tuesday, India has surpassed 20 million cases of COVID-19 and the death toll from the virus reached over 220,000.

As reported by the New York Times, the Biden administration is expected to restrict travel to India this week in light of elevated cases and a rising death toll because of the virus.

The cases were detected in an adult and an older adult in Jefferson County. IDPH and local public health have initiated contact with the individuals to understand exposures and initiate the public health monitoring process,” IDPH said in the release.

The State Hygienic Lab is conducting sequencing to better understand the different strains circulating in Iowa, as well as the activity of COVID-19 around the country.

Other variants of the coronavirus include the U.K. variant and the Brazil variant. Two cases of the U.K. variant were reported in Johnson County on Feb. 1.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, both the U.K. and the Brazil variant appear to be more transmissible.

IDPH is encouraging everyone in the state to continue COVID-19 mitigation practices, such as wearing face coverings in public, practicing social distancing, and staying home and getting tested if people are feeling sick.

IDPH is also encouraging all those who are eligible to receive the vaccine if they have not yet.

As of April 5, everyone in Iowa over the age of 16 is eligible to receive their vaccine. According to the state’s coronavirus tracker, more than 1 million Iowans have completed a full series of COVID-19 vaccination.

State Medical Director Caitlin Pedati, an epidemiologist at the IDPH, said in Tuesday’s release that the best way to prevent the spread of all variants of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.

“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. 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,” Pedati said in the release.