VDH reports first case of B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant identified in Va.
RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — The Virginia Department of Health and the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services announced Monday the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a sample from a resident of Northern Virginia.
The variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom in 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says.
“Viruses change all the time, and we expect to see new strains as disease spreads,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver in a press release from VDH. “We know this variant strain spreads more quickly between people than other strains currently circulating in our communities, but we still have more to learn about whether it causes more severe illness. As our state public health officials closely monitor the emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant in our Commonwealth, it is important that all Virginians continue following mitigation measures.”
VDH says nearly 200 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been detected in 23 states throughout the country as of January 22, 2021.
VDH also says early data suggests currently authorized vaccines are effective against the new variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been notified of the case.
“As a virus spreads from one person to another, it makes copies of itself and sometimes makes small genetic changes called mutations. Because of these mutations, new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. According to the CDC, multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and around the world. The B.1.1.7 variant contains an unusually large number of mutations,” the press release from the Virginia Department of Health says.
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