The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today that it has detected two cases of the “South African variant,” or B.1.351 strain of SARS-CoV-2.
This variant is more contagious but is not considered more virulent, and it is believed that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will work against these strains — although perhaps not quite as well as the vaccine works against previous strains.
The state government said that so far, there is no known travel history and no connection between the two cases. Both are adults; one from the Lowcountry and one from the Pee Dee region. “To protect their privacy, no further information will be released.”
South Carolina ranks around the middle of the pack in its vaccination program so far. The state has used 59.6 percent of its allocated 326,985 doses and has given 5.3 percent of its population one dose of the vaccine, and about 1 percent both required doses, according to Bloomberg’s tracker. The state is administering about 19,000 doses per day, which is also around the middle of the pack when compared to other states.
About 18 percent of South Carolina residents are 65 years old or older, the tenth-highest percentage in the country. According to Census data, the number of state residents 75 or older has increased by more than 100,000 in the past decade, what the state’s Department on Aging calls the “silver tsunami.”