COVID-19 Variant With ‘Increased Transmissibility’ Discovered In Massachusetts
The first case of a supposed more-contagious variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
According to a press release, a Massachusetts woman in her 20s had traveled to the United Kingdom, which is where the new strain was first detected last month. The woman tested negative for COVID-19 before traveling back to Massachusetts but became ill the day after she returned.
The woman, who is a Boston resident, developed these symptoms in early January, per the release. However, the Massachusetts Public Health Laboratory was just notified of the results Saturday evening after a genetic sample was sent to an out-of-state laboratory, per CDC protocols to determine COVID-19 variants.
The release said the woman was interviewed by contract tracers at the time of the initial positive test. Close contacts were also identified at that time, per the release, which added the woman will be interviewed again following the public health's determination that the aforementioned COVID-19 variant was the cause of infection.
Surveillance for the COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7, has been ongoing at the state laboratory, the release said. Genomic sequencing on portions of COVID-19 positive specimens is used to investigate for certain strains.
As of Sunday, 88 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant had been reported in the United States, affecting 14 different states. There has been no data to suggest the new variant is more deadly or results in any increased frequency of severe symptoms. However, early returns have showed evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant could be more transmissible, according to the CDC.