1 case of COVID-19 variant found in Brevard County

CDC: 92 cases of B. 1. 1. 7 strain detected in Florida

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo a pharmacist draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Sacramento, Calif. Mutations to the virus are rapidly popping up and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool, File) (Noah Berger)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County is officially among the list of areas in the Central Florida region where a variant of COVID-19 has been detected.

One case of the B. 1. 1. 7 COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in Brevard County, according to health officials.

The new, more contagious variant, which was first detected in the U.K., has also been observed in Orange, Volusia, Osceola and Seminole counties.

[TRENDING: Video shows deputy Tasing student | How to get the vaccine in Fla. | NASA tests new moon rocket]

Health officials said the B.1.1.7 variant has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s no evidence to suggest the U.K. variant, which was first detected in September 2020, is more deadly or that it responds any differently to the available vaccines.

In fact, Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said the best defense against any variant of the virus is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly possible.

“The pharmaceutical companies are analyzing and the evidence suggests that vaccines continue to be effective, as it is right now, although now only we have now the UK variants, we also have the South Africa and then Brazil and who knows what else could pop,” Pino said. “So anyone who has access to the vaccine that has the opportunity should get vaccinated. The concern is that it could continue to mutate and some of the mutations could bring resistance and that’s always a concern.”

Brevard County health officials said on Friday, when the first case was confirmed in the area, that people can slow the spread of the variant the same way they have worked to with the first COVID-19 strain that hit the U.S. last year.

“The best preventative measures against variant cases are the same measures we currently encourage – social distancing, wearing face masks, frequent hand washing, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces,” Brevard health officials said.

The most recent numbers show 92 cases of the COVID-19 variant have been detected in Florida, making the Sunshine State the worst in the country alongside California, which has also reported 92 cases. In total, 28 states have reported 315 cases of the variant nationwide.

According to the CDC, multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally. In addition to the B. 1. 1. 7 strain, another variant called B.1.351, which first emerged in South Africa, was confirmed in the U.S. this month, as well as a variant known as P.1, which was first identified in Brazil and also hit the U.S. this month.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.