The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) has confirmed two cases of COVID-19 in Maryland residents caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 variant strain commonly known as B-117.

The two cases announced today involve residents in the Baltimore region who are both under 65 years old and live in the same household. One of the two infected had traveled internationally and it is thought that one individual transmitted the virus to the other. Neither patient has needed to be hospitalized.

The variant strain first emerged in the United Kingdom in late 2020. The strain has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other strains. The strain, however, has been shown to be more transmissible than other strains. There is no evidence that the current COVID-19 vaccines are less effective on the B-117 strain.

“Our state health officials are closely monitoring the emergence of the B-117 strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” said Governor Hogan. “We encourage Marylanders to practice caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this strain. It is critically important that we all continue to follow standard public health and safety measures, including mask-wearing, regular hand washing, and social distancing.”

Extensive contact tracing measures have been employed for both cases of the B-117 strain identified in Maryland, and there is currently no evidence of additional transmission of the strain. MDH continues aggressive contact tracing for all cases of COVID-19 identified in the state.

Both of the cases were identified in viral samples tested at an independent lab licensed in Maryland. The results of the analysis were reviewed by the state’s public health lab and discussed with officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since the strain was initially identified, the lab has been monitoring for the possible emergence in Maryland by sequencing viral samples collected in the state. To date, the CDC has identified 72 cases of COVID-19 caused by the B-117 strain in the United States.