UNITED KINGDOM. London: The mutating COVID-19 variant, first detected in the U.K. at the end of last year, is doubling its reach in the United States every 10 days, according to a new study published on Sunday.
The new findings straightened the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) predictions that the new variant could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March.
According to the new study published on the medical site medRxiv, but not peer-reviewed, 3.6% of the COVID-19 cases in the U.S. that surfaced during the last week of January were connected to the U.K. variant.
On Sunday, medRxiv shared on Twitter the new research: “Genomic epidemiology identifies emergence and rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 in the United States.”
Hard to Track down
The researchers highlighted that it is complicated to track down the spread of the new variant in the U.S. This is due to the lack of “a national genomics surveillance program like those found in the U.K., Denmark, and other countries,” CNBC reported.
The study also concluded that the new strain is already spreading via community transmission. It initially arrived in the country through international travelers and then started spreading internally with people traveling across the country for the festive season.
A ray of hope
The medRziv paper’s researchers think that the U.S. still has time to turn around the new strain trend and control its spread. However, this can only happen through an immediate public health action.
According to the study, a lack of intervention to tackle the spread of the new variant can cause “devastating consequences to COVID-19 mortality and morbidity in the U.S. in a few months.”
Health officials have also said that the existing vaccines are still likely to work against the new strains, however, their effect might be reduced.
COVID-19 cases in Europe
COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in Wuhan at the end of 2019. It was initially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Dec. 31, 2019, and a month later the WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency.
As of Feb. 5, the Johns Hopkins University reported 34,609,123 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Europe and 774,777 deaths. The U.K. has the highest death toll in Europe, followed by Italy and France.