State: ‘Variants of concern’ now make of majority of COVID cases in Hawaii

The Hawaii State Lab is monitoring for potential cases of a new variant of COVID-19.
The Hawaii State Lab is monitoring for potential cases of a new variant of COVID-19.(Hawaii Department of Health)
Published: May. 26, 2021 at 12:54 PM HST|Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 7:18 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Health Department officials raised the alarm on Wednesday about COVID-19 mutations in the islands, saying the majority of Hawaii cases reviewed by State Lab scientists are now linked to “variants of concern” from California, the UK and Brazil.

State Laboratories Division Director Dr. Edward Desmond said “variants of concern” make up more than 90% of all COVID genomes sequenced in the lab. “We detected our first variants in January and in just four months they have replaced the original COVID-19 lineages as the COVID we find most often.”

Desmond said the State Lab has so far confirmed more than 1,000 COVID variant specimens.

Of those, the majority are the California variant followed by the UK variant, which is dominant now.

The P.1 variant, first found in Brazil, has been found in 36 Hawaii specimens. Authorities are particularly concerned about that one because it is highly infectious and may be more resistant to antibodies.

“The best way to protect yourself from the variants and slow their spread is to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, in a news release.

“We know the vaccines are effective against the current variants.”

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