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The UK coronavirus variant to become dominant in U.S., CDC warns

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the new UK strain of COVID-19 will become dominant in the U.S.

Electron microscope image of a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle.
Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a former researcher at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, posted a paper that talked about how the virus originated in a lab.
NIAID/NIH via Associated Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted Friday that the new coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom will become the dominant strain in the United States within two months.

  • So far, only 76 cases of the more-transmissible variant have been identified so far in the U.S., per The New York Times.

What’s going on?

The CDC said it explored every scenario and found the UK strain — which is estimated to be between 50% to 70% more transmissible — will be the more common strain of the virus.

  • The new strain will account for the majority of cases in the U.S. by March, the CDC said.

Modeling data released with the warning showed the UK strain will lead to a massive spike from the UK strain.

  • The new data “speaks to the urgency of getting vaccines out. It’s now a race against the virus,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, according to The Washington Post.

Key quote

  • “I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, according to The New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

What to do

The CDC said people need to take more efforts to prevent the spread to stop the new variant from becoming as damaging as it could be. Butler, the CDC scientist, encouraged Americans to keep stay social distance, wear masks and stay vigilant against the virus.