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OSDH identifies B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant in the state

Friday, May 14, 2021

Sequencing from the Public Health Lab has identified a cluster of confirmed cases of the India variant in Cleveland County, officials urge testing if symptomatic

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced today it has identified a cluster of 17 recent cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, commonly referred to as the India variant, in the state. Of those, 13 confirmed cases were associated with Cleveland County. To date, a total of 18 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant have been identified in the state.

Three of the 17 were fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine and two were partially vaccinated at the time of onset. Symptom onsets range from April 16 - April 27, 2021. 

“Through our sequencing efforts at the Public Health Lab, we have identified a cluster of cases of the B.1.617.2 variant in Cleveland County,” said State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone. “While we are still identifying all the details of exposure and contact tracing, the presence of variants reinforces the importance of seeking out testing if you are symptomatic. We urge Oklahomans to get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated. Identifying and tracing new variants is critical to our ability to respond and mitigate community transmission of the virus.”

The identified cases have been across all age groups, and all cases have been symptomatic. As of May 14, the most recent case onset of B.1.617.2 known to OSDH was May 6. None have been hospitalized. 

“We are keeping an eye on the B.1.617.2 variant and others as the situation continues to develop,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gitanjali Pai. “As of May 10, the B.1.617 strain is officially considered a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. From what we currently know, vaccination should still provide some protection against the B.1.617 variant, especially against severe illness — which underscores the need for Oklahomans to get the vaccine as soon as possible. As we continue to monitor and learn about variants of COVID-19, we will keep the public updated on our findings.”

“As we begin our return to normalcy across the nation, variants of any kind present the biggest threat to maintaining the decreases we’ve seen in community spread of the virus,” said Stone. “As variants of COVID-19 emerge, it can become more or less transmissible, or can change in other ways — meaning we may need to adjust how we treat it. Right now we know that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the variants we have identified, but it’s very important people get tested so we can continue tracking emerging variants and adjust our approach if needed.”