Novant Health officials say they are monitoring the emergence of new COVID-19 variants amid ongoing vaccination efforts. 

The Guilford County Department of Public Health confirmed its first case of the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus over the weekend. The mutation, which originated in the U.K., is considered significantly more contagious. 

Novant Senior Vice President Dr. David Priest noted the variant is projected to become the dominant form of the virus in the U.S. by March. 

“So in many ways, we're in this race against time as we vaccinate people as quickly as possible and we continue to do our social distancing and masking strategies," said Priest. "We do run the risk of seeing future spikes in cases this spring.”

Priest said current COVID-19 vaccines are still expected to provide significant protection against the variant, though more research is needed. 

So far, Novant has administered over 57,000 first vaccine doses. 

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.

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