September 21. While the Delta variant’s dominance in the United States is nearly universal, news of another spreading strain of Covid-19 has recently surfaced.
Known as R.1, the new variant was first found stateside in Kentucky which, according to Governor Andy Beshear, is among the three states with the highest infection rates. R.1 was first identified via an outbreak at a skilled nursing facility there.
According to a CDC report, among 83 residents and 116 healthcare workers, 26 residents and 20 workers tested positive for Covid. Twenty eight specimens were subjected to whole genome sequencing and, on March 1, found to have mutations that aligned with the R.1 lineage. “Attack rates were three to four times as high among unvaccinated residents and [workers] as among those who were vaccinated,” according to the findings.
Roughly 90% of the facility’s residents and and 52% of the staff had received 2 vaccine doses. Among those, 25.4% of the residents and 7.1% of the workers were infected. That, according the CDC analyses, raises concerns about reduced protective immunity to R.1 from vaccines.
What’s more, four possible reinfections were identified, “providing some evidence of limited or waning natural immunity to this variant,” per the report. All of those people experienced symptomatic illness. One of them died.
The good news is that, despite the breakthrough infections, vaccination was associated with decreased likelihood of infection and symptomatic illness among both patients and staff. Furthermore, R.1 does not seem to be outcompeting — and thus be more transmissible than — Delta.