A more contagious variant of COVID-19 that originated in the United Kingdom could be the predominant strain in the United States as early as March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday.
The highly transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2, called B.1.1.7, has been detected in 10 U.S. states, according to the agency. It could threaten already strained healthcare resources, require extended and more rigorous use of public health strategies and increase the percentage of population immunity needed for herd immunity, authors wrote in a report.
“The increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant warrants universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking,” the report stated.
News of the strain’s trajectory comes as the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus. In fact, the CDC has predicted that fully 92,000 more Americans will die from the virus within the next three weeks. Although this latest strain of the virus seems to be much faster spreading — possibly 70% faster — than earlier strains, the agency has said it does not appear to cause worse symptoms or higher mortality.