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New variant of the coronavirus detected in North Dakota

June 24, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota health officials said Thursday they have documented a new version of the coronavirus in the state.

The delta variant was confirmed in an adult who was not hospitalized, the state Health Department confirmed. No other details were released, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

“This variant is more easily transmitted from person to person and early data is indicating that this variant can cause serious disease, especially in those who are not vaccinated,” said Kirby Kruger, head of the department’s disease control division and forensic pathology section.

The delta variant has been found in more than 80 countries since it was first detected in India last December. It currently represents 20% of infections throughout the U.S. but health officials say it could become the country’s dominant type.

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“Early evidence from a laboratory setting is showing that previous infection with COVID-19 may not protect against this variant,” Kruger said.

Early data indicates the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective against the variant. State Immunization Director Molly Howell urged non-vaccinated state residents to get a shot.

The number of new virus cases remain low in North Dakota. The state confirmed 15 new cases Thursday, for a positivity rate of less than 1% in the last day.