Second Case Of COVID-19 Variant Detected In Massachusetts

BOSTON (State House News Service) — A second person tested positive Tuesday in Massachusetts with the more contagious variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom, Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said.

Bharel said the case of the B.1.1.7 variant was discovered by the Massachusetts Public Health Laboratory, but she did not offer further details.

The first case of the new strain of the coronavirus was detected over the weekend in a female resident of Boston in her 20s who had visited the United Kingdom. Bharel disclosed the new case at Wednesday's meeting of the Public Health Council.

"The public health measures for these new variants remain the same," Bharel said.

Bharel said that as of Monday 746,250 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been allocated to Massachusetts and 337,333 doses have been administered. She said the vaccine, which is believed to be effective on the new strain of COVID-19, is the "light at the end of the tunnel" of the pandemic.

With President-elect Joe Biden taking the office on Wednesday and promising not to hold back on the delivery of any doses to states, Bharel said Massachusetts does not currently delay the distribution of second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to health care facilities as they come in, and will watch to see how vaccine deliveries might change.

The council on Wednesday approved an amendment to emergency regulations governing the administration of vaccines that would make pharmacy students and students studying to become physician assistants eligible to be trained to administer COVID-19 and other vaccines.

The change expands the emergency pool of vaccine administrators beyond medical and nursing students if the commissioner determines that there are or will be insufficient health care professionals available for timely vaccine administration.

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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