Edinburg, Texas (KVEO)—Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez confirms four residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 UK variant.

The variant was first detected in the U.S. last December.

U.K. government scientific advisers say the COVID-19 variant now predominant in the country may be up to 70% more deadly than previous variants, underscoring concerns about how mutations may change the characteristics of the disease, according to the Associated Press.

According to Dr. Antoni Fauci during a White House COVID-19 briefing in February, the best defense against the evolution of COVID-19 and the emergence of variant strains is getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Fauci said the variant of COVID-19 first found in the United Kingdom could become the “dominant” strain in U.S. by end of March, but both vaccines approved in the United States are “quite effective” against it.

Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Director Eddie Olivarez will speak to the media this afternoon.

This is a developing story and we will bring you more information as it becomes available.