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Researchers at West Virginia University discover COVID-19 variant in West Virginia

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MORGANTOWN, W. VA. (WVVA) - The COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom is now present in West Virginia, after confirmation came from West Virginia University last Friday.

Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia's Coronavirus Czar, said the emerging U-K Variant of COVID-19 is more contagious than the original strain of the virus that triggered the global pandemic a year ago.

"As we know these variant are important in causing a little bit more easy spread than some of the other COVID-19 viruses that we have seen in the past," said Marsh.

A research team at West Virginia University in Morgantown helped identify and confirm this variant's presence in West Virginia.

Dr. Sally Hodder,  the Associate Vice President of Clinical and Translational Research at WVU, said this finding should prompt people to continue protective protocols to prevent the infection.

"It is really important at this time for people to double down on what we know works to prevent transmission of this virus and that is masking, that is social distancing," said Hodder.

Dr. Marsh said tracking the variant is vital.

"We will be armed in a different way than we have been in the past to really specifically identify what is the virus that's causing a particular set of clinical observations, such as I said an outbreak and be able to do that in a way where we can track it that we can then identify the people that mightt be infected with it and we can really very quickly isolate those people and prevent the spread," said Marsh.

Hodder said Inter-campus communication is key and they are all taking necessary steps to keep students, staff, and the communities safe and informed.

Researchers with Marshall University also played a role in identifying and confirming the UK variant of COVID in West Virginia.

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Maria Sellers

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