JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Scientists in Alaska have discovered 10 cases of a new coronavirus strain that researchers have said is more contagious and potentially more effective at evading vaccines.
The B.1.429 variant, first discovered in California, was identified in Alaska in early January and has since been detected nine more times, according to a report released on Wednesday by scientists assembled by the state to investigate new strains.
At least six groups of B.1.429 cases have been detected statewide this year, the report said.
Scientists and public health officials have expressed concerns about multiple new strains of the coronavirus, which they say could prolong the pandemic even as governments scale up their vaccination efforts, KTOO-FM reported.
State public health officials also said they have identified two cases of the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain, first discovered in the United Kingdom, along with one case of the P.1 strain, which was first seen in Brazil. The P.1 strain is also more contagious, and vaccines may be less viable against it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates the P.1 and B.1.1.7 strains as “variants of concern.”
The CDC has not yet designated the B.1.429 variant first found in California as a variant of concern.