COVID-19 UK variant likely more prevalent in Florida than numbers show

The United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus is spreading around the country, with California and Florida reporting the highest number of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Central Florida, Seminole County is reporting six cases of the variant, and Brevard, Volusia, Lake counties are each reporting one known case of the strain. 

"We recognize full that this is an urgent Public health need to determine what is the prevalence of the variant strains in our population," said Dr. Nicole Iovine. 

Dr. Iovine is an Infectious Disease Specialist and Chief Hospital Epidemiologist for UF Health.  She believes there is a good chance there’ are more cases in the Sunshine State.  

RELATED: More UK variant COVID-19 cases detected in Central Florida

"The most strains that are sent to the CDC, the more they test, the more they find," Dr. Iovine explained. 

Testing for these variant strains is more complex than just testing for the presence of the virus — additional testing known as sequencing.  That’s done in research laboratories. 

"In order to sequence it, you have to look at each one of the bases, we call them of the genetic code.  That’s not a clinical procedure, that’s a research procedure.  It’s done at CDC for example at UF Health we have the ability to do it as well," Dr. Iovine said.

Dr. Iovine said UF Health is ramping up its testing research and practices to detect these coronavirus variants.    

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