NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont confirmed the first two cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in Connecticut. It is the same COVID variant initially discovered in the UK.

According to Lamont, the patients are two individuals between 15-25 and both reside in New Haven County. Both patients had traveled outside Connecticut – one to Ireland and the other to New York State – and developed symptoms of the virus within three to four days of their return.

Since then, they both have been interviewed by contact tracers and their close contacts were identified.

One of the patients has completed their isolation period. The other patient is still self-isolating at their home and will remain in isolation until they are 10 days past the onset of symptoms, as well as symptom free.

The governor said that genetic sequencing of the virus has confirmed that the two cases are not related.

This variant is believed to spread faster and more easily; however, it does not appear any more likely to cause severe illness or death.

The State Public Health Laboratory recently started what they’re calling an “enhanced surveillance testing strategy.”

They’ve teamed up with Yale and Jackson Laboratories to do that.

The genomic sequencing of these samples was done by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health. We spoke to one of them Thursday.

Dr. Tara Alpert of Yale School of Public Health said, “We’ve been doing genomic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 for the entire pandemic. Given the heightened awareness around the new variant, we amped up our efforts and started looking for samples where we had a suspicion it might be. We started specifically and urgently sequencing those samples and so I probably did about three runs on the sequencer before I finally found it.”

New research suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two highly contagious variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa.

Most of the vaccines being rolled out around the world train the body to recognize that spike protein and fight it. Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if the mutation affected its vaccine’s ability to do so.

They used blood samples from 20 people who received the vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, during a large study of the shots. Antibodies from those vaccine recipients successfully fended off the virus in lab dishes, according to the study posted late Thursday on an online site for researchers.

The study is preliminary and has not yet been reviewed by experts, a key step for medical research.