The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.427 and B.1.429 in samples that were collected between December 2020 and February 2021 from Virginia residents.
The B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants, which first emerged in California in the summer of 2020, are associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. Currently, there is no evidence that infections with these variants cause more severe disease. These two variants were only recently added to CDC’s Variant of Concern list.
The Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) confirmed the cases using next-generation sequencing analysis, which provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. With the identification of these new variant cases, Virginia now has identified a total of 14 cases of the B.1.427 variant, nine cases of the B.1.429 variant, 26 cases of the B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa) and 127 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in the United Kingdom). With the combined state and national surveillance efforts, it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.
Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as disease spreads. As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.