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Connecticut man tests positive for COVID-19 variant from South Africa after arrival at NYC hospital

A hospital worker puts his personal protective equipment back on after lunch in a hospital amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Governor Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers not to panic on Monday after a man with a COVID-19 variant that emanated in South Africa arrived at a New York City hospital. It’s believed he contracted the illness in Connecticut where he lives.

The unnamed man was brought to the city for an unrelated procedure and was later found to be carrying the more aggressive variant that has been known to be resilient against the AstraZeneca vaccine which was approved for emergency use by the United Nations.

“There is a patient in New York City who tested positive for the South African variant. The South African variant is the variant that they’re watching most closely, the UK variant is very transmissible. But South African variant, [health officials] worry about how lethal it is and how it relates to the vaccine,” Cuomo said. “The patient was transferred from Connecticut directly to a New York City hospital, it was not a New York resident It was a person in Connecticut, who was transferred to a New York City Hospital for a procedure.”

The South African government suspended the use of the AstraZeneca shot for its citizens on Feb. 8 after it became apparent it lacked adequate protection against the variant noted for its ability to avoid antibodies and infect its subject.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford had high hopes in their development of the COVID-19 vaccine for its potential deployment to developing countries for just $3.

But in sample of about 2,000 people, the AstraZeneca vaccine was only found to grant to protection to about 25%.

According to the governor, the patient’s setting in a controlled environment makes it less of a public health risk than the UK variant, which was discovered in Saratoga Springs in January and estimated to be 70% more infectious than the variants well-known to Americans at this stage in the pandemic.

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