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University Hospitals: COVID-19 variants present in lab samples as early as December

The UK variant is said to be spread more easily than the original COVID-19 strain.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a story published on January 13, 2021.

According to an email sent on Thursday morning from University Hospitals, the Northeast Ohio healthcare provider has begun to detect the UK COVID-19 variant, among other variants. 

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"Through testing developed in UH Department of Pathology’s Translational Laboratory, University Hospitals has discovered several of the emerging COVID-19 variants, including the UK variant, in samples from Northeast Ohio patients," the email says. 

The hospital says that different forms of the coronavirus variant are present in lab samples going back as far as December of 2020. While it would seem as though the variants have been in the Northeast Ohio area for several weeks at the minimum, UH also believes that variant cases are relatively a low-portion of those who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past two months. 

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"Based on our surveillance approach, it is felt that at this time the variants represent a low proportion of COVID-19 circulating in Northeast Ohio," the email continues. 

On January 13, Ohio reported a new strain of SARS-CoV2, discovered by doctors at the Wexner Medical Center in Columbus

“This new Columbus strain has the same genetic backbone as earlier cases we’ve studied, but these three mutations represent a significant evolution,” said Dr. Dan Jones, vice chair of the division of molecular pathology at Wexner Medical Center. “We know this shift didn’t come from the U.K. or South African branches of the virus.”

You can find more information about the Columbus COVID-19 variant in the player below:


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