The state Department of Health State Laboratories Division announced Monday it has detected the SARS-CoV-2 variant L452R.
This strain of COVID-19 was first detected in Denmark in March 2020. It is now found in more than a dozen U.S. states, according to the department. Science has not shown the L452R variant spreads more quickly or poses a greater threat than other COVID-19 strains, but there is concern because it has been linked to a growing number of cases in California including several large outbreaks.
“It is common to find variants to viruses like COVID-19. Some present greater risks than others,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist. “We are working with our colleagues in other states as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about the characteristics of this particular variant.”
The department’s State Laboratories Division began genome sequencing in June looking for possible COVID-19 variants. It now examines 75 specimens a week and has developed a testing algorithm designed to find variants as soon as possible after they arrive.
The B.1.1.7 variant first found in the United Kingdom and the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa both have enhanced transmissibility. Neither B.1.1.7 nor B.1.351 has been detected in Hawaii.