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article imageHighly transmissible COVID-19 variant to become dominant in U.S.

By Karen Graham     Jan 15, 2021 in Health
Atlanta - The highly contagious variant of the coronavirus first seen in the United Kingdom will become the dominant strain in the United States by March, its rapid spread heightening the urgency of getting people vaccinated, according to a new study by the CDC.
The B.1.1.7 strain of the coronavirus was first identified in Great Britain in late September 2020. Since that time, it has spread to numerous countries around the world. The variant has been associated with a faster spread of the virus among the population.
Just two days ago, health officials were reporting the UK variant in 12 states. Health officials are in agreement that the new strain is more contagious, meaning it spreads easier than when it first appeared. This does not mean it is deadlier, though.
According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "The increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant warrants universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking. Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public."
US President-elect Joe Biden wants to get America over Covid and economic crisis
US President-elect Joe Biden wants to get America over Covid and economic crisis
“These measures will be more effective if they are instituted sooner rather than later to slow the initial spread of the B.1.1.7 variant. Efforts to prepare the health care system for further surges in cases are warranted,” the researchers said.
So far, as of Wednesday this week, 76 Covid-19 cases with the highly infectious variant, known as B.1.1.7 have been found in the U.S., according to CNBC. However, many of the cases identified have been in people with no travel history, suggesting the variant is spreading in the community undetected.
The Washington Post is reporting that so far, no variant is known to cause more severe illness, although more infections would inevitably mean a higher death toll overall, as the CDC made clear in an informational graphic released Friday: “MORE SPREAD — MORE CASES — MORE DEATHS,” it said.
Jay C. Butler, the CDC deputy director for infectious diseases, in discussing the emergence of variants of the coronavirus, says these mutations require closer surveillance.
The CDC and its partners in private and academic laboratories are ramping up genomic sequencing efforts to gain a better awareness of what is already circulating. Experts think there could be many variants containing mutations worth a closer look.
“This is a situation of concern. We are increasing our surveillance of emerging variants. This virus sometimes surprises us,” Butler said.
And the CDC is warning us that the pain and suffering we will experience in late March when the new variant is forecast to be dominant, depends on actions taken today to try to drive down infection rates.
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