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NJ confirms the first 2 cases of a highly contagious variant of COVID, originally found in the UK

The highly contagious variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in the United Kingdom before it was found in many US states, has reached New Jersey, NJ Advance Media has learned.

Gov. Phil Murphy and top health official will announce at a COVID-19 briefing in Trenton on Friday that two cases have been identified in the garden state.

Scientists claim that the mutation is up to 70% more contagious. But there is still no evidence that it is more lethal or more resistant to vaccines. New Jersey joins at least 20 states where the strain has been confirmed.

“We report that two cases of COVID-1

9 variant have been identified in New Jersey, including variant B.1.1.7 or the United Kingdom,” said Health Commissioner Judy Persicili, according to her comments.

The first identified case is from a man from Ocean County in the 60s, and the other is a child traveling to northern New Jersey, Health Commissioner Judy Persicili will announce.

“(The man) had no history of travel or clear statements to other patients,” Persicili said. “The child who was tested on January 11 in New York is asymptomatic. The local health department is working to further investigate the case. “

The man developed symptoms in late December and was tested by PCR on January 6. He was never hospitalized and has since recovered.

As early as the end of December, the governor said that the new strain was probably already in the state.

“We are working, assuming that this pressure is on us,” Murphy said at a December 28 briefing.

It was opened in neighboring New York in early January.

CORONAVIR RESOURCES: Live map tracking | Bulletin | Homepage

Viruses often acquire small changes of a letter or two in their genetic alphabet only through normal evolution. A slightly modified strain can become the most common in a country or region only because it is the strain that first established itself there, or because events from a “super distributor” have helped it establish itself.

Of greater concern is when the virus mutates, altering the proteins on its surface to help it escape drugs or the immune system.

But health officials in New Jersey said they did not think the option would limit the effectiveness of vaccines against the virus.

“The chances are that the vaccine will continue to work well,” said Ed Lifshitz, medical director of the Ministry of Health for Infectious Diseases, late last month.

“The reason for this is that in order for the virus to mutate enough, the antibodies in the vaccine are unlikely to stop it,” he said. “

He added: “I know that cellular vaccine manufacturers are looking at this and we certainly always want to pay attention because we never say never when it comes to viruses, but I expect the vaccine to be as effective or almost as effective against the new option as much as the current options. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Matt Arco can be reached in marco@njadvancemedia.com.

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