PEKIN (WEEK) -- Reditus Laboratories in Pekin says it has detected a new COVID-19 mutation that may be linked to the variant first found in the United Kingdom.
The mutation was detected in tests run this week at its lab, according to a press release from Reditus. The specimens came from testing in DuPage County.
"The mutation was detected in two people who are believed to be the first two confirmed cases of the 69-70 deletion lineage in Illinois," said Reditus CEO Dr. Aaron Rossi.
The 69-70 deletion has been suggested to be a mutation in the B.1.1.7 lineage first identified in the United Kingdom.
Twelve cases of the mutation were confirmed nationwide earlier this month, according to the company's announcement.
"The concern is, it's much more contagious so we just still need to be careful even though we have vaccinations out there," said Rossi.
The UK variant was identified in Illinois earlier this month and the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed nine cases of the UK variant this week.
Rossi said he was anticipating additional mutations of COVID-19. Viruses change through mutation and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
“What this (detection of the 69-70 deletion) tells us is the virus is consistently mutating at a more rapid pace,” Rossi said. “The general consensus is the mutations are more contagious (spreading more easily) than the earlier strain of the virus.”
While there was no evidence early on to indicate that the COVID-19 vaccines would not be effective against the new mutations, Rossi said some researchers are concerned whether the vaccines will be as protective against the new variants.
“It’s too early to tell if the vaccine will be effective against the variants,” Rossi said. “There is a lot of data we need to gather. Time will tell.”
Reditus says it has performed more than 1.6 million tests for COVID-19 from testing sites across the country.