Faster-Spreading COVID Variant Expanding in U.S.

FRIDAY April 2, 2021 (HealthDay News) – The faster-spreading COVID-19 variant first detected in the UK is fast becoming the dominant form of the virus in the United States.

A new study has found that the B.1.1.7 variant is detected in an increasing proportion of SARS-CoV-2 samples and is 40% to 50% more transmissible than versions of the virus that were previously dominant.

With previous research showing that the B.1.1.7 variant may be around 50% more deadly, the new findings suggest the United States may have more cases and deaths of COVID-19 than previously thought, according to the authors of the study, published on March 31 in the journal Cell.

“B.1.1.7 quickly became the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK and other countries after it emerged late last year, and the US is now on a trajectory. similar, ”said study co-author Kristian Andersen. He is the Director of Infectious Disease Genomics at the Scripps Research Translational Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

“We need immediate and decisive action to minimize the morbidity and mortality from COVID-19,” Andersen added in a press release from Scripps.

“B.1.1.7 has a doubling rate of just over a week and an increased transmission rate of 40% to 50%, which means it could have a significant impact on public health”, Study co-lead author William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, which provides PCR-based COVID-19 testing to organizations across the United States.

“It is essential that we continue to monitor the spread of this variant and other emerging variants, but our current level of surveillance is inadequate and lags behind that of other countries,” Lee said in the statement. “We need a more comprehensive national SARS-CoV-2 genomics surveillance program to address this problem.

There is no evidence yet that the B.1.1.7 variant is resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, but public health officials fear its higher rate of spread will significantly worsen the pandemic before it can. be stopped by vaccines.

The B.1.1.7 variant appeared in southern England last year and has since become the dominant variant there. The first evidence of the variant in the United States was confirmed in California in December.

The researchers found that the B.1.1.7 variant had been introduced in the United States on several occasions since at least the end of November 2020, particularly in California and during times when there was an increase in travel, including the week of Thanksgiving.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 variants.

SOURCE: Scripps Research Institute, press release, March 31, 2021

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