RICHMOND, Va. -- The first case of the COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.7 has been identified in Virginia, state health officials confirmed Monday.
The Virginia Department of Health and the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) announced that the first case of the B.1.1.7 variant was identified in a sample from a resident of Northern Virginia with no reported recent travel history.
DCLS says they have informed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the variant case.
The B.1.1.7 variant first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020 and is more infectious, according to leading health experts.
“Viruses change all the time, and we expect to see new strains as disease spreads,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “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.”
As of January 22, nearly 200 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been detected in 23 states.
Moderna announced Monday that a study found its COVID-19 vaccine appears to protect against the new coronavirus variants.
Scientists say early data suggests currently authorized vaccines are effective against the new variant.
For more information about COVID-19 variants, click here.