Sponsored by:

More contagious variant of COVID-19 found in N.H. for the first time

  • Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, answers questions at a news conference in Concord, New Hampshire, on Sunday, March 8, 2020. He and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette, background, announced the number of people testing positive for the new coronavirus in the state has doubled to four. The new patients are a Rockingham County man who recently traveled to Italy and a Grafton County man who was exposed to the virus by one of the earlier patients at a March 1 church service. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer) Holly Ramer

  • Curbside COVID-19 testing at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough on Friday, April 10, 2020. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript). Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Curbside COVID-19 testing at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough on Friday, April 10, 2020. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript). Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monitor staff
Published: 2/16/2021 5:10:29 PM

A variant of COVID-19 that spreads more quickly has been found in a New Hampshire resident for the first time, an expected development that reflects the latest complexity in battling the global pandemic.

The variant is known as B.1.1.7 and commonly called the “U.K. variant” because it was first detected in the United Kingdom. The state said in a press release than an adult in Hillsborough County was found to be infected with this variant of COVID-19 after being in “close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 after international travel.

“While this person did not travel, this detection of the variant virus is associated with international travel for this reason. Contact tracing has identified close household contacts, but no other community exposures have been identified,” the announcement said.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said it was a matter of time before the new variant found its way here.

“The presence of a COVID-19 variant in New Hampshire is not surprising, and we will likely see increasing numbers of infections from the B.1.1.7 variant,” Chan said in a statement. “The CDC has estimated that the variant will likely become the predominant circulating variant in the U.S. in the near future.”

The B.1.1.7 variant has already been found in about 86 countries and more than 37 states, with more than 980 cases in the U.S., according to state officials.

It appears to be much more contagious than the current form of the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes COVID-19, although not necessarily more dangerous. Existing COVID-19 vaccines are “highly effective” at preventing this variant, the state said.

It is not the only new type of the virus circulating, however. A variant first identified in South Africa called B.1.351 has also shown up in the United States, although it has not been found yet in New Hampshire. It appears to make some people sicker than the original COVID-19 strain and seems resistant to a vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca. South Africa has stopped distributing that vaccine, which has not been approved for use in the U.S.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2020 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy