Two cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 found in Erie County

Posted at 12:51 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 10:02:39-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Two cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 have been found in Erie County, according to data from the governor's office.

In a COVID-19 update Tuesday, the governor's office said 18 new cases of the UK variant were identified in the state, bringing the total number of cases of the UK variant to 154.

Two of the 18 new cases were in Erie County. Erie County is now the third Western New York county to have a confirmed case of the UK variant.

On January 27 a single case of the UK variant was found in Niagara County and on February 5 a single case of the UK variant was found in Allegany County.

Experts say the UK variant of COVID-19 is more infectious than the normal COVID strain but, just because it is more infectious, does not mean there is time for panic.

"The early suggestion is this should not be a cause for concern," Dr. Yasmin Thanavala, Professor of Immunology at Roswell Park said in a January 5 interview with WKBW.

In a previous interview with WKBW, Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of Infectious Disease at the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine, said the data shows it does not cause more severe symptoms at this point.

"Presently, the data does support that it does not cause a more severe disease, which is obviously good news," Dr. Russo said.

"Because it’s a more aggressive strain we can expect to see more of these cases," said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. "Expect it to be just the beginning."

Dr. Burstein says the vaccine will help prevent transmission of this virus.

"It is something we have to track," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.