RICHMOND, Va. -- The first case of the COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.7 has been identified in Central Virginia, state health officials confirmed Wednesday.
The Virginia Department of Health announced that the case was identified in a sample from an adult resident of Central Virginia who had no history of travel during the exposure period.
The B.1.1.7 variant first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020 and is more infectious, according to leading health experts.
"A preliminary report from experts in the United Kingdom indicates that this variant causes more severe illness than other variants, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding," said the VDH in a release.
Scientists say early data suggests currently authorized vaccines are effective against the new variant.
As of February 24, 12 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been detected in Virginia and to date, the variant has been identified in 44 other U.S. states.
Additionally, three cases of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa, have been identified in Virginia, as of February 24.
For more information about COVID-19 variants, click here.