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DOH finds new COVID variant

HONOLULU — The state Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division confirmed the presence of a new COVID-19 variant in Hawai‘i.

The P.2 variant, which contains the E484K mutation, was identified through surveillance testing conducted on O‘ahu.

While the implications of this additional strain are unknown at this time, the P.2 variant is closely watched because two individuals in Brazil who were previously infected with COVID-19 were reinfected with the P.2 variant.

It is unclear whether this variant is more resistant to vaccines and antibodies gained through previous COVID-19 infection.

“New case counts are down from a month ago, but these variants remind us to remain vigilant,” said DOH Director Dr. Elizabeth Char.

“The more the virus is able to infect people, the more opportunity it has to mutate, so it behooves us to prevent infections. We all know that is done by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding large gatherings and getting vaccinated when it is our turn.”

While the P.2 variant is still being studied, people previously vaccinated or previously infected are not expected to become seriously ill if infected with the P.2 variant. The P.2 variant is thought to have originated in Brazil. It has been found in several states and Europe.

The P.2 variant has thus far been detected in one individual who lives on O‘ahu. “That individual recently traveled to the U.S. mainland,” said Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “That person is in isolation and known close contacts are in quarantine.”

Another variant of concern is associated with an increase of COVID-19 cases on Maui. The B.1.429 variant, previously called L452R, was first detected in Hawai‘i almost four weeks ago. On Feb. 2, the DOH announced seven known cases on O‘ahu, one case on Kaua‘i and one case on Maui.

The B.1.429 variant was first detected in California in December. It has become the dominant strain in California and is found in more than 40 other states. The B.1.429 variant may be more transmissible than other COVID-19 strains, but there is still much to learn about this variant, and it is still considered “under investigation” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is not clear how effective current vaccines are against B.1.429.

Also, three additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant are confirmed on O‘ahu. This brings the total number of B.1.1.7 cases in Hawai‘i to six. All six are on O‘ahu and are household contacts.“The P.2, B.1.429, and B.1.1.7 variants were discovered as part of proactive statewide surveillance conducted by the DOH in collaboration with private hospitals and independent clinical laboratories,” said State Laboratories Division Director Dr. Edward Desmond.

Hawai‘i currently leads the nation in the percentage of specimens sequenced and sent to the international Global Initiative on Sharing all Influenza Data database. Discovery of variants by DOH helps in that patients identified with variant strains can be the focus of the most-rigorous, contact-tracing efforts.

  1. I saw a Vampire once February 27, 2021 6:55 am Reply

    Reinfected? This thing is like duel. It keeps coming back. Somebody is going to be popular with this cure. And it’s not Dennis Quade. The vaccines are not working. Scary…

  2. merri February 27, 2021 7:54 am Reply

    Dr. Char states “We all know that is done by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding large gatherings and getting vaccinated when it is our turn.”
    Please Dr. Char show me the proof that mask wearing is helpful in this circus. Vaccinate for a virus that is not isolated?

  3. Ahh February 27, 2021 8:19 am Reply

    These guys aren’t ready to give up control. So cue the new variant you can still get sick from even if you had covid and got a vaccine. Oh, you mean a virus is doing exactly what viruses do, mutate in order to keep surviving, in fact what all biological specimens do. It can’t be this simple ? Oh but it is.

  4. Victor February 27, 2021 10:58 am Reply

    You’re an idiot if you think the folks in charge now want thing to get back to normal. They want you scared and under their control. So now there is a new scare for the FLU. We have been dealing with the flu virus since forever, and have folks getting a flu shot ever year because the strain changes itself. The Doctors have to guess how that flu has changed and try to make a vaccine for it not knowing if it will work 100% a year before it gets put into your arm. Remember when Sniffin Joe B. told us that his admin. knew exactly how to fix this? How much of that Covid relief money is going towards actually going to help with Covid? If it’s not 100% then its all BULL!

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