First case of South African variant of COVID-19 in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A Rock Island resident is the first in Illinois identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have contracted a variant of COVID-19 first identified in South Africa.

Cases of the variant were first reported in the U.S. at the end of January. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says the variant, like others identified, spreads the coronavirus more rapidly, which can lead to more COVID-19 cases.

Public health officials say studies indicate vaccines developed to combat COVID-19 may offer some protection against the variants, including the one first identified in the United Kingdom.