South African COVID-19 variant spreading across US

The more contagious variant appears to chip away at the effectiveness of vaccines and has been identified in eight states.
4:19 | 02/16/21

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Transcript for South African COVID-19 variant spreading across US
We move on to other news tonight and to the coronavirus and news this evening that the dangerous south African variant has now been detected in a patient here in New York City, at a hospital here, brought in from Connecticut. This particular variant has now been seen in at least eight states and Dr. Anthony Fauci warning tonight of reinfection with this south African strain, meaning some people have had the virus and are now getting it again. And all of this as scientists study seven other variants that have been found in the U.S. And as more states open up eligibility for vaccine, that's good news for people hoping to get a shot. The issue has become the lack of supply in so many states. More than 38 million Americans with at least one shot now. That's nearly 12% of the population. And here's ABC's Eva pilgrim tonight. Reporter: Tonight, the south African covid variant spreading in the U.S., one case now confirmed in a patient from Connecticut, now hospitalized in New York City. We have no evidence of any spread in New York state to date. Reporter: The more contagious south African variant appears to chip away at the effectiveness of the vaccines. It's now identified in eight states. Dr. Anthony Fauci warning there have also been cases of reinfection with that south Africa strain. In South Africa, there were people who got infected with the original virus, recovered and then got reinfected with this new variant, the south African variant, which tells us that prior infection does not protect you against reinfection, at least with this particular variant. Reporter: Across the country, covid cases are down by 62% in the last month, but variants threaten to reverse that trend. British scientists say the uk variant, now in 41 states, is likely more deadly. And researchers are now tracking seven new strains originating here in the U.S. To see if they're more contagious. We are nowhere out of the woods. If we relax these mitigation strategies with increasingly transmissible variants out there, we could be in a much more difficult spot. Reporter: And now, a surge in demand for the vaccine. Across the country, states widening eligibility. In New York, 3 million more people with underlying health conditions are now eligible. But the challenge is getting an appointment. 26-year-old Kenisha Mcfadden has an auto immune disorder. I was exhausted by the time I booked my appointment. Reporter: It comes as new York's governor Andrew Cuomo is addressing his handling of the numbers of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes after his office conceded that it delayed turning them over to state lawmakers. The void we created allowed disinformation and that created more anxieties for the families of loved ones. Reporter: Families have wondered whether their loved ones could have been saved. Today, Cuomo defending his record. The truth is, everybody did everything they could. Reporter: Tonight, renewed concern for young patients. Some hospitals reporting an increase in cases of that rare multiinflammatory syndrome in children. In Indiana, the parents of 5 jeerld jenia say it happened so fast when she got sick with covid, vomiting with a fever. He kidneys and liver then failing. The doctors told us, maybe if we would have waited one more day, they possibly couldn't have done anything for her. Reporter: Doctors successfully treated her with medication. You feel better? I feel better! That is good news and we need some reassuring news on this virus. Eva with us now from a pharmacy giving out vaccines. And Eva, what you reported there, the south African variant confirmed in that patient in new there are seven newly identified variants originating here in the U.S. And authorities are saying even though cases are coming down, now is not the time to let your guard down. Reporter: That's exactly right, David. Health experts are urging people tos main, double mask when possible, social distance, wash your hands, all those things more important now than ever and they're reminding people, even if you've gotten the vaccine, you still need to keep practicing those measures. David? Because those vaccines could then be tested by these variants. Eva pilgrim, thank you. Now, to former president trump acquitted in his second impeachment trial, seen waving

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