A couple weeks ago, the first variant of COVID-19, B.1.1.7, was found in Britain, where it is much more contagious. This variant has made its way to the United States, doubling almost every 10 days. According to the New York Times article, “Virus Variant First Found in Britain Now Spreading Rapidly in U.S.” Zimmer states,
“Analyzing half a million coronavirus tests and hundreds of genomes, a team of researchers predicted that in a month this variant could become predominant in the United States, potentially bringing a surge of new cases and increased risk of death”(Zimmer).From the New York Times article, “Virus Variant First Found in Britain Now Spreading Rapidly in U.S.”
Dr. Andersen’s team predicted that this variant in the United States has a transmission rate of around 30 to 40 percent compared to original Coronavirus. However, this is only an estimate since they think that the rate will be higher as more data comes in.
Nicholas Davies, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is worried about the rapid spread of the variant. He says he is particularly worried for states like Florida, since the studies show a sudden surge in cases that make the time to respond extremely limited. The problem with this variant is that it is harder to track.
“But it was difficult to determine just how widespread the variant was. B.1.1.7 contains a distinctive set of 23 mutations scattered in a genome that is 30,000 genetic letters long. The best way to figure out if a virus belongs to the B.1.1.7 lineage is to sequence its entire genome — a process that can be carried out only with special machines” (Zimmer).From the New York Times article, “Virus Variant First Found in Britain Now Spreading Rapidly in U.S.”
A likely cause of the sudden recent spread of the variant is through the travel during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, since it has become more common in the past 2 months. Since research is still being done, the best method for containing cases from getting any higher is to get vaccinated. In Israel, where B.1.1.7 is predominant, cases dropped significantly within elderly because of the priority of vaccines.