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ODH: UK COVID-19 variant expected to be dominant strain in Ohio within two weeks

Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says the B117 COVID-19 variant is more contagious and more deadly.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says he expects the U.K. B117 variant of COVID-19 to be the dominant strain circulating in Ohio in the next two weeks.

Dr. Vanderhoff made the comments during Gov. Mike DeWine's COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday.

"As we progress into April, it’s clear that Ohio and the nation are enduring yet another wave of COVID-19, but as you noted, this time it’s being driven by the new variants of the original virus," Vanderhoff said. "In addition, evidence continues to mount that B117, along with other variants, is not only more contagious, it’s also more deadly."

"B117 alone, which really seems to have been the variant driving the wave both nationally, and in Michigan, accounts for the lions’ share of our total," Vanderhoff added. "Quite frankly, I think within the next couple of weeks, the variant will be the virus that we are dealing with."

Vanderhoff said variant counts jumped from just 92 cases on March 12, to 797 cases today. 

In Ohio, the B117 and two variants first seen in California account for 95% of variant detections in the state, as of Wednesday. The B117 variant accounts for about a third of cases nationwide.

Ohio tests a subset of COVID tests for the virus variants. There are a limited number of labs that are capable of performing the genetic analysis on the COVID tests that come in.

RELATED: "A race:" Gov. DeWine announces one-third of Ohioans have received at least one dose of vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

But the news isn't all bad.

"Our spring surge of variants here in Ohio is, in fact, happening in a better context than what the U.K. endured this winter," Vanderhoff said, "because of our very successful vaccination effort." As of Wednesday, 1/3 of Ohioans had been vaccinated for COVID-19. 

You can watch Gov. DeWine's entire press conference in the player below.