Experts Believe New Variant Of COVID-19 Likely Already In Massachusetts

By Jason Hall

January 6, 2021

Experts are warning Massachusetts residents that a new variant of COVID-19 that has moved to the northeast is likely already in the Bay State.

The variant, which was initially found in the United Kingdom, is reported to have been detected in five states and has several mutations, which make it even more contagious than the coronavirus.

“I think most of us are working on the assumption that it is here. There would be no reason not to, given the contagious nature of this new variant,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said via WCVB.

Experts have yet to determine whether the variant causes more severe symptoms, but are calling for the state to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination distribution before the spread continues.

“Unfortunately, I think this just is going to mean we are in the hole for a longer time with the need for control measures because we need that much more vaccination before it is under control,” said Dr. Marc Lipsitch, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Gov. Baker said nearly 300,000 residents have already received the COVID-19 vaccine and the state has administered an additional 117,000, but cautioned that there is a delay in reported data.

"The actual number of doses that's currently been administered is probably higher now," Baker said via WCVB.

On Monday (January 4), an individual in Saratoga Springs, New York tested positive for the new variant of coronavirus, which had also been found in two other states, WCVB reports.

Dr. Dan Barouch, who leads a team at Harvard's Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, told WCVB that he believes the COVID-19 vaccines will be able to combat variants of the coronavirus, although it has yet to be confirmed.

Experts have also said even if the vaccines don't work on the new strain, it doesn't mean a new pandemic will begin, due to the vast discoveries and progress made over the last year.

Photo: Getty Images

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