PHOENIX (AP) – Researchers with Arizona State University and TGen have announced that they are in the process of tracking a new COVID-19 “variant of interest”, which appears to have been established in Arizona.

Officials say have confirmed 17 cases of the new strain, known as the E484K variant. 15 were discovered in Arizona starting in February, and two other cases were discovered in Houston, Texas and New Mexico.

At this point, researchers say they don’t have many answers as to what type of impact this new variant might have on the real world, but it appears that it reduces the body’s antibody response to the virus and could potentially reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

Other variants that are currently found in the state include the California, United Kingdom and South African variants. Researchers say the vaccine is largely effective against known variants.

The data shows that the downward trend in cases has stopped as authorities say they’ve seen a recent increase in daily cases, and now is not the time to reduce mitigation measures. 

Researchers are continuing to encourage people to wear a mask, socially distance and get the vaccine.

Read more about the research here.

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