SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. – The South African COVID-19 variant "B.1.351" has been confirmed in six COVID-19 cases in Shasta County, according to local health officials.
"We have now identified the B.1.351 variant in Shasta County, and have found 6 cases so far, all of which are connected," Kerri Schuette, with Shasta County Health and Human Services said.
Schuette said this is the fourth COVID-19 variant strain identified in Shasta County. Including the more common West Coast variants and the UK variant.
"All of these are more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus," Schuette said in a news release Friday.
The South African variant is the least common COVID-19 variant in the United States. B.1.351 emerged in South Africa in December and was detected in the United States in January. making up just 0.7% of the variant cases circulating in the United States and 0.3% in California, according to the CDC.
Some vaccines are less effective against this variant, though the vaccine is still the best way to protect against COVID-19, health officials said. The mutations help the virus latch on more tightly to human cells, and can help the virus evade antibodies.