The Arizona Department of Health Services announced March 26 that the B.1.351 COVID-19 variant strain, more commonly referred to as the South African variant, has been confirmed in two test samples from the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this SARS-CoV-2 variant, which spreads at a faster rate, was first detected in the U.S. at the end of January, according to a news release from ADHS. The CDC has advised that currently authorized vaccines so far appear effective against this variant, according to the release.

"It is typical for viruses to change through mutation as they continue spreading, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time," read the release. "Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants appear and linger. It isn’t known how widely the variant may have spread in Arizona."