The new report said that the variant could exhibit ‘rapid growth in early 2021,’ leading the agency to urge increased compliance with mitigation measures like masking.
A HIGHLY TRANSMISSIBLE coronavirus variant that was first detected in the U.K. could become the main strain circulating in the U.S. in March, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report said that the variant could exhibit “rapid growth in early 2021,” leading the agency to urge for “universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking.” Increased vaccination coverage could be needed to protect the public, according to the CDC.
“Taking measures to reduce transmission now can lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7 (the variant) and allow critical time to increase vaccination coverage,” the study said.
CDC data shows that the U.S. has found 76 cases of the variant, but several infections in people who have no reported travel history likely mean the strain are spreading undetected.
Other variants like those first detected in South Africa and Japan have not shown up in surveillance work so far, though the agency said it would increase sequencing efforts.
“CDC has also contracted with several large commercial clinical laboratories to rapidly sequence tens of thousands of SARS-CoV-2– positive specimens each month and has funded seven academic institutions to conduct genomic surveillance in partnership with public health agencies, thereby adding substantially to the availability of timely genomic surveillance data from across the United States,” the report said.
The report comes as the world tops 2 million deaths from the virus. The U.S. is in the worst phase of its outbreak yet, with over 23.4 million infections and 390,000 deaths.