New, extra transmissible COVID pressure confirmed in Hawaii

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The coronavirus variant B117 was found in Hawaii.

This particular mutation of COVID-19, also known as the UK strain, is up to 60% more transmissible than the original. The Hawaii Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division (SLD) confirmed their presence at a news conference Friday.

“It can spread more aggressively so we have to be careful,” Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said before adding the advantage. “Vaccines work against this variant.”

The first case of the variant was identified on O’ahu, although it is believed to be present across the state.

The confirmed case of B117, as well as several other possible infections of the British variant in Hawaii, contain no travel history. That means the perpetrator has been spread throughout the community, indicating that the virus has already penetrated the state’s population to some extent.

“We have already initiated contact tracing investigations and are closely monitoring these cases,” said the acting state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble.

The confirmed sample is one of four samples previously found in Hawaii to have a molecular clue consistent with the B117 variant. The other samples are still being analyzed.

SLD director Dr. Edward Desmond said the results of a second sample were due Friday evening while the results of a third should be due by Saturday.


The department is performing genome sequencing on 300 samples per month to track B117 and other possible variants, some of which have shown potential vaccine resistance. None of these have yet been discovered in Hawaii.


“The samples selected for sequencing represent patients who are more likely to have variant strains and samples that represent all parts of the state,” said Dr. Desmond. “The sequencing indicates the presence of variant strains with one of the affected mutations.”

The lieutenant governor urged people not to panic, claiming that the same tools were still available to combat the original COVID burden: social distancing, wearing face coverings, avoiding large gatherings, and vaccination.

“We are not helpless against this highly transferable variant,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige. “Please limit your Super Bowl party to household members. Together we can stay safe. “

Restricting social contact remains vital as humanity has entered a race against the virus – vaccinations against the spread of variants.

Hawaii currently gives around 50,000 vaccinations a week, often more than 10,000 a day, Green said. Government targets are 350,000 shots by March 1 and 550,000 doses by early April.


By Friday, the British virus strain had been confirmed in at least 33 US states.

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