CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) - Experts say it spreads faster and is more aggressive than the original strain of COVID-19.

We're talking about the UK variant of the virus, and it's been detected right here in the Upstate.

We found out recent samples from some local wastewater treatment plants have the scientific community concerned.

"We're in a race against time to get people vaccinated before the variants really take over," said Chief Epidemiologist at Clemson Dr. Corey Kalbaugh.

That's how Dr. Kalbaugh feels after a recent study showed the UK variant of COVID-19 is in the Clemson community.

Kalbaugh and others have been collecting samples from three wastewater facilities in Clemson to test for the coronavirus, but have only recently been able to sequence those samples to look for variants.

He told us recent data showed the UK variant was found in 100 percent of wastewater samples taken on March 25 from the Cochran Road plant and the Pendleton/Clemson plant.

Kalbaugh says this indicates that multiple people have the variant.

"It's worrisome to me and enough so that I'm willing to remind people publicly to get the vaccine, to wear their masks," he said.

We asked people in Clemson how they feel knowing the UK variant is in the community.

"If it's not passable on surfaces and I'm perfectly in control of how close somebody is to me, it doesn't really worry me," said Chris, who's visiting is son.

"People should be more careful and exercise precautions," said another person in Clemson.

Dr. Kalbaugh says the reason the UK variant showing up is so concerning to him is because of its impact on the younger population.

"There's some early evidence here that the UK variant is more aggressive and leads to more severe symptoms in 30-60 year olds. That's a significant portion of Clemson's population outside of its student population," he explained.

Kalbaugh adds that neither the South African or Brazilian variant were detected in the samples from late March.

He said a fourth wave of cases is possible, but says that if people continue to get vaccinated, wear masks, and get tested that the next wave of cases can be limited.

Copyright 2021 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All Rights Reserved.


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