Multiple researchers recently told CNN that the new UK strain of the coronavirus arrived in the United States around mid-November, and many people might be infected.

In fact, Michael Worobey, head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, said that hundreds might be infected.

  • “If I had to guess, I would say it’s probably in hundreds of people by now,” he said, according to CNN. “It’s very possible it’s arrived multiple times in multiple places.”

Trevor Bedford, associate professor in the vaccine and infectious disease division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, told CNN that travel played a big role.

  • “Imagine the amount of infected travelers leaving London — that’s been increasing exponentially,” he said.
Related
Will the COVID-19 vaccine stop the UK coronavirus variant?
Is Arizona ready for the UK variant? Here’s what experts say
CDC says new UK COVID-19 variant ‘could already be in the United States’

Context:

The United Kingdom issued a series of lockdowns and travel bans after discovering a new COVID-19 variant, which I wrote about for the Deseret News.

The new mutation is reportedly between between 50% to 70% more contagious than the current version of the virus.

Other experts agree

These researchers aren’t alone in their assumption that the mutation made its way to America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a release Tuesday that the new COVID-19 variant may already be in the U.S.

Related
Are Pfizer and Moderna prepared to fight the UK coronavirus variant?

The CDC said the U.S. has not done enough genetic coding to provide confidence that the virus isn’t here, saying “viruses have only been sequenced from about 51,000 of the 17 million U.S. cases.”

  • “Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation,” the CDC said in a statement. “Given the small fraction of U.S. infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently told CNBC that the new mutation of the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom “is already in the United States.”

  • “I don’t think a travel ban, at this point, is going to prevent this mutated strain from coming into the United States,” Gottlieb said, according to CNBC.. “We’re going to have an epidemic that continues to build over the course of the next three or four weeks, we’ll reach a peak, and then we’ll start to see infection rates decline as we see vaccinations get rolled out.”