As COVID-19 rates continue to rise in Western New York, there is now a new variant of the virus that has been identified.

According to WIVB, a new "South African" variant of the COVID-19 virus was discovered in two different samples here in Western New York.

Scientists at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center laboratory detected the “South African” variant (B.1.351) in two samples taken in March 2021.

The Erie County Department of Health says contact tracers confirmed one of the samples was taken from an individual that had recently traveled to Florida.

This latest variant was first detected in Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa back in October of 2020.

According to Wikipedia, researchers believe that is variant of COVID-19 was higher among young people and more frequently causes serious illness in such cases than other variants.

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The good news is that the current vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer all help defend against this variant of COVID-19.

Here in New York State, anyone over the age of 16 can now get the vaccine. If you want to get the COVID-19 vaccine you can find the nearest clinic HERE.

Many local pharmacies like Wegmans, Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens are now offering the COVID-19 vaccination as well. To find a pharmacy near you, you can click HERE

Currently, the CDC says there are five different variants of the COVID-19 virus here in the United States. The first one that was detected in the United States originally was identified in the UK. The "South African" variant was first reported in the United States in January of 2021.


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