The United Kingdom reported the presence of a new coronavirus variant in mid-December, and it's already made its way into more than 30 countries, including the United States. Virus mutations are nothing out of the ordinary, but this new strain, called B.1.1.7, has caused serious concern among health officials thanks to its transmissibility. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has weighed in on the the future of the new variant in this country—and it's not good news. According to a new CDC report, the U.K. COVID strain may soon become the dominant COVID strain in the U.S. Read on for more on the agency's alarming prediction, and for another look at what's to come, The Moderna CEO Just Made This Scary Prediction About COVID.
The CDC says the U.K. strain will become the dominant variant within two months.
The U.K. strain "has the potential to increase the U.S. pandemic trajectory in the coming months," the CDC said in a new study released on Jan. 15. According to their modeled trajectory, this strain is expected to grow so rapidly that it becomes the dominant variant in the U.S. by March.
This trajectory means that efforts to increase vaccinations and mitigation measures—like distancing, masking, and hand hygiene—are more important now than ever before. The CDC says that instituting these measures "sooner rather than later" will make them more effective in slowing the initial spread of the new variant. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
This is because the U.K. coronavirus strain spreads more easily.
People are more likely to contract COVID from those who have the U.K. strain, as the CDC reports that it is around 50 percent more transmissible than current variants. According to the report, there was a higher proportion of secondary contacts infected by the virus when exposed to index patients with the B.1.1.7 strain than when exposed to index patients with other variants of the coronavirus.
"Currently, there is no known difference in clinical outcomes associated with the described SARS-CoV-2 variants; however, a higher rate of transmission will lead to more cases, increasing the number of persons overall who need clinical care, exacerbating the burden on an already strained health care system, and resulting in more deaths," the CDC explains. And for another dire prediction, The CDC Just Issued This Horrifying COVID Warning.
The CDC says this strain has already been found in 12 states.
There have been 76 reported cases of the U.K. strain in the U.S., as of Jan. 13. According to a map the CDC has been updating, these cases have been found in 12 states: California, Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, New York, Indiana, Georgia, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
However, many officials believe that number is actually even higher. In a Jan. 6 interview with Newsweek, Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that he believed this strain was "more widespread in the United States than we are currently detecting it to be." In fact, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that he was told by CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, that the U.K. variant was most likely already in every state. And for more on the current state of the pandemic, This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
The CDC is also warning about other emerging COVID strains.
The CDC warned that this U.K. strain is not the only notable variant circulating at the moment. The agency points to two other strains: B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, and B.1.1.28 (renamed P.1), which was detected from Brazilian travelers in a Tokyo airport. Neither of these variants have been detected in the U.S. as of Jan. 12, the CDC notes. But there is still cause for concern. According to the CDC, these two variants "carry a constellation of genetic mutations," which may not only increase transmissibility, but could also affect the results of COVID tests and reduce people's ability to develop protective antibodies. And for guidance on staying safe, The CDC Has Issued a Warning Against These 4 Face Coverings.