Fast-spreading strain of COVID arrived in Alaska in December - Must Read Alaska
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Fast-spreading strain of COVID arrived in Alaska in December

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The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services says an Anchorage resident who tested positive for COVID-19 infection last month was infected with a variant strain of the virus known as B.1.1.7, which was originally detected in September in the United Kingdom.

This is the first identification in Alaska of the B.1.1.7 strain, or any of the variant strains that are raising concerns among public health officials. 

“Viruses constantly change through mutation so it’s not unexpected to find variants of the virus,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin. “However, B.1.1.7 is one of several SARS-CoV-2 variants that has been carefully tracked because it appears to spread more easily and quickly than other strains of the virus.”

As of Jan. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counted 293 cases of B.1.1.7 in 24 states, according to a CDC webpage that keeps track of COVID-19 variant cases in the United States.  

“We’re not surprised this variant has been detected in Alaska,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “We’ve been sequencing the viral genome from a subset of positive test samples to detect the presence of variants as quickly as possible.” 

Alaska’s Public Health Laboratories have been sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome from positive cases around the state since March 2020 to monitor circulating strains in Alaska. When significant variants began to be detected globally this past fall, the state labs directed those sequencing efforts to look for the presence of these variants in Alaska. To date, roughly 4-5% of all positive COVID-19 cases have been sequenced. This is four times higher than the national average for COVID-19 sequencing and on par with efforts in the United Kingdom. 

The person who tested positive in Anchorage had recently visited a state where the variant has already been detected.

After returning home, the person first experienced symptoms on Dec. 17, was swabbed on Dec. 20, and received a result on Dec. 22. The individual isolated after being notified of the positive result, according to contact tracers. The individual lived with one other person who also became sick, tested positive and was successfully isolated. Both individuals have since recovered, the State said.

“The two patients remained in isolation and stated that they did not have contact with others,” Dr. Zink added. “We are hopeful that transmission of this particular variant stopped with these two individuals, but we will very likely detect the variant strain again soon.” 

The CDC warned that this variant could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by late spring and has the potential to drive further increases in infections in coming months. 

The variant sample was first screened by the Alaska State Virology Laboratory in Fairbanks on the same day of test collection, Dec. 20, and was found to be missing the spike gene, indicating it was a possible variant. The sample was part of a group of over 300 specimens with spike gene target failures that have been sequenced over the past three weeks to examine viral genomes for variants, a process that normally takes about a week to analyze roughly 100 genomes. The lab’s initial analysis determined the sample was the B.1.1.7 variant. This finding was then confirmed by a University of Alaska Fairbanks laboratory. DHSS notified the CDC Monday that the variant had been found in Alaska.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • So what? Let the virus run its course and people protect themselves as they choose. Open everything.

  • There is no running its course. We are stuck with this thing forever. You can get vaccinated, or get sick and die, or get sick and live or avoid the contagion and do none of the above. That’s the choices.

    • Perfectly said Caterina. Watch George Carlin’s “Germs..” for info and levity.

    • Exactly Greg and so one has to wonder…. why are we still trying to kill businesses? It’s here forever so now is the time to stop draconian measures and go back to normal.

      • Teachers Unions don’t want kids returning to schools. Kids are dumbing down quicker than when brainwashing sessions were taught………prior to COVID.
        COVID -19 is a dream come true for Lefty Democrats and Totalitarian Marxists.

        • I disagree the lack of schools brainwashing liberal ideas is a blessing. Home schooling can help kids get back to a real education.

  • More added fear to merit officials handicapping the u.s. economy until the u.s. dollar is worthless and people will feel they have no choice accepting the new one world currency plus its microchip going along with it.

  • Are you tired of all the propaganda and hypnosis yet? I agree with Caterina and if you choose to be paranoid and keep following this whole pseudo-science scam just keep bending over. Let those who are not scared of their own mortality and shadow live their own lives. If all you socialists are worried about life you can not control, why don’t you just use a self contained space suit? Just walk around in your bubble and leave everyone else alone. We will live longer then you. Not to mention will not die from the vaccines.

  • And???
    It is more contagious, and???? So what?
    .
    Is a higher percentage of people who catch it going to die? (From what I read, no.)
    Does it result in worse symptoms? (Again, from what I see, no.)
    .
    So what. It is more contagious. And the next variant may be less lethal, or maybe perfectly harmless to humans.
    If the news media stopped with the fear mongering, the politicians would stop trying to save everyone, and we can get businesses back open again.

  • Wow. We have been “super sick and fast spreading” since December and we didn’t even know it. Let’s give everyone a ‘vaccine’ for that. Every person’s life is theirs to live or die as they see fit, as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s life. More propaganda is not the ‘cure’. It is the curse. Freedom is not free. Things will get much much worse before they get better, I’m afraid. Faint hearts and fools need not apply. Faith and strength will prevail in the end. We only lose if we lose ourselves to the tyranny, in our minds.

  • Live your life. Don’t succumb to fear- and most especially, don’t let your fear drive you to think you have the right to oppress your neighbor…you don’t.

  • Really…..A Super easy spreader……Really……. Wonder where they’ll be heading with this kind of verbiage. ‘Me-Rolling my eyes again.’ “Go get ……”

  • We need the deniers to start volunteering for ICU Duty. No PPE required, it’s hoax, so go as you are, have fun with it!

  • I don’t care. I am done with it all.

  • This is all hype. Technically if its a new strain it would need to be identified as COVID 20. Its not being labeled as such so its not a new strain. They got a lot of mileage out of COVID 19 and now they need something new. I have heard rumors of a COVID 22 so this fear will never end. It enables too much control to simply let it pass.

  • This article falls right in line with the V-For Vendetta movie. What is so ironic is that movie goes to show the pattern of how these new strains keeps being shoved in your face through the MSM.

    Are you ready to get the new swab being touted by the CCP to be tested from the behind to detect Covid?

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