HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is ranked number three in COVID-19 vaccine distribution nationwide, but we are now near the top of a new list of growing hotspots.

Yale has been keeping track of the numbers and it looks like the variants are to blame.

“Right now it is a race a vaccine versus the virus and variants,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Manisha Juthani.

We’re learning more about the COVID variants we are seeing in the state. The state Department of Public Health confirmed Wednesday that the B1525 and the B1526 variants originating in New York have made their way into Connecticut. There are 53 total cases as of now. They call that a “variant of interest.”

The more serious “variants of concern” are the U.K., South Africa, Brazil, and California variants. So far, the U.K. variant (B117) is the most dominant variant strain in our state with 246 confirmed cases.

Dr. Manisha Juthani: “B117 is a variant that is not only more contagious, but there was a paper that came out recently that shows that it is more deadly as well.”

Governor Ned Lamont’s office releasing the new numbers Wednesday: the positivity rate is up at 4.3%, that is down a little bit from Tuesday, however, it’s the hospitalizations the governor says he keeps an eye on. And those are up as well. They believe the variants are driving that.

“There are younger people who are getting hospitalized this time around,” Dr. Juthani explained. “Hospitalizations are ticking up and I’m hopeful that they won’t take off like in the past.”

The variants have landed the Northeast on a national COVID hotspot list. And while surrounding states are on the rise, as well, doctors say the vaccine is still effective on the mutating virus.

Yale Medicine’s Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu added, “The good news is the current batch of vaccines work well against the current variants, and I think that as we continue to increase vaccination rates, we will start to see much less hospitalizations and deaths.”

Yale has a new variant tracker. It’s a website to look at all of the variants, how many are here in Connecticut, how many are here in America, and track spread.