GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The director of the Center for Disease Control said Wednesday that the Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK is now the dominant strain in the United States, and a Clemson University professor told 7News an analysis of the virus found in wastewater showed it was the dominant strain in the Clemson area as well.
The data from DHEC and CDC do not show the British variant predominates in South Carolina, but that is something DHEC is monitoring.
Professor Clemson and chair of the university’s environmental engineering and earth sciences department Dr. David Freedman has been monitoring the Covid-19 virus found in Clemson’s wastewater for nearly a year. He said it shows how widespread the virus is in society. Over the past three weeks, he said the British variant went from nearly undetectable to dominating.
“The newest sample we have is basically 100 percent,” he said.
The British variant appears to be more contagious than the original form of the virus, according to the CDC.
Dr Freedman said wastewater showed the virus also appeared to have spread more widely in the Clemson area in March.
According to the CDC, the British variant accounts for about nine percent of Covid-19 cases in South Carolina. This is higher in several other states, including Florida, where one in three cases is caused by a variant, according to CDC data.
“Our story is a microcosm of what’s happening globally with the spread of these variants,” said Dr. Freedman.
DHEC officials are continuing to monitor the variants and hope that there will be a reduction in stable cases in the state.
“This variant nationally, as well as in South Carolina, is the reason we encourage everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, who is the interim public health director at DHEC.
“This variant puts us in a race between disease spread and vaccination rates,” said Dr. Freedman.
Experts warn that even though vaccines are bringing us closer to the end of the pandemic, social distancing and disguise remain important.
Dr. Freedman likens it to running a marathon.
“You’re on mile 22, the last thing you do is stop,” he said. “You have four more miles. Finish … and that’s what we face now. “
He said a variant from South Africa had not been detected in the Clemson wastewater.
Data suggests a vaccine available in the US should provide adequate protection against the variant.