More contagious coronavirus variant may soon be the US's dominant strain
January 19, 2021
A highly contagious coronavirus variant will become the dominant version of the virus in the United States in March, emphasizing the need for more rapid vaccination, a new modeling study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests.
The coronavirus variant was first identified in December in the United Kingdom. Called B.1.1.7, it has some mutations that may help the virus better spread among people, though the variant isn’t thought to cause more severe disease. It has so far been detected in 76 COVID-19 cases across 12 U.S. states. Because experts have analyzed the genetic fingerprints of only a small percentage of the millions of coronavirus infections in the United States, however, it’s unclear how widespread B.1.1.7 might be. Experts estimate that the variant currently causes less than half a percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases.