STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

More contagious coronavirus variant identified in UK is spreading rapidly throughout the US, study says

A new study finds that cases of a more contagious coronavirus variant are rapidly increasing in the United States, and significant community transmission may...

Posted: Feb 7, 2021 12:05 PM
Updated: Feb 7, 2021 2:15 PM

A new study finds that cases of a more contagious coronavirus variant are rapidly increasing in the United States, and significant community transmission may already be occurring.

Although the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK is currently at a relatively low frequency in the United States, the paper says it's doubling every week and a half, similar to what was observed in other countries. The report estimates this variant is 35-45% more transmissible than strains that appeared earlier in the United States, and it's doubling about every 10 days in the country.

Last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modeling predicted the B.1.1.7 variant could become the predominant strain in the United States by March. It estimates the virus is about 50% more transmissible.

'Our study shows that the U.S. is on a similar trajectory as other countries where B.1.1.7 rapidly became the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant, requiring immediate and decisive action to minimize COVID-19 morbidity and mortality,' researchers wrote in the study's preprint, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.

In addition to groups of cases in California, Florida and Georgia, many B.1.1.7 cases in the United States did not report recent international travel, the report said, suggesting 'significant community transmission of the B.1.1.7 variant is already ongoing across the U.S.'

The new study, posted Sunday on the preprint server MedRxiv, is a collaboration of researchers from several institutions and the company Helix, which is one of the commercial, academic and public health labs that shares information on variants with the CDC.

US labs are still sequencing only a small subset of coronavirus samples, the paper said, so it's not clear what variants are circulating in the country. Without 'decisive and immediate public health action,' new, more transmissible variants 'will likely have devastating consequences to COVID-19 mortality and morbidity in the U.S. in a few months,' the researchers warn.

Helix President Dr. James Lu told CNN last week the company had been tracking evidence that cases of B.1.1.7 are on the rise, and not just a product of increased genetic sequencing across the country.

'The rate of growth here in Florida and Southern California looks a lot like the type of growth that we have seen previously in the UK and Denmark ... where B.1.1.7 became the predominant variant strain pretty quickly,' Lu said.

It's unclear whether the pace of vaccination in the United States will prevent the strain from gaining a foothold in places where it's not already circulating, he added.

'We're in a race between the vaccine and the new strains,' Lu said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci last week suggested the US isn't vaccinating people fast enough to stay ahead of new variants. That could blunt the vaccine's efforts to bring cases down, he told CNN. 'If the variants and the mutations come, and start becoming dominant, then that's going to obviate some of the effects of the vaccine,' he said.

More than 610 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been found in 33 states, according to CDC. Most are in Florida and California. The first US case was announced December 29, but the earliest known cases stretch back earlier. Analysis in the new study suggests the B.1.1.7 variant arrived in the United States as early as late November 2020.

The strain has also been found in at least 80 countries and territories around the globe, the World Health Organization said last week.

The United States has also tallied five cases in two states of the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa, and two cases in one state of the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206299

Reported Deaths: 2750
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40280614
Washington26740248
Marion23370323
Clackamas18872235
Lane13862162
Jackson11518146
Deschutes998682
Umatilla859287
Linn557280
Klamath477478
Yamhill477379
Polk397755
Douglas385881
Malheur361163
Josephine357572
Benton325422
Jefferson236339
Coos216637
Columbia190829
Union149124
Wasco143830
Lincoln142721
Crook128923
Hood River121933
Morrow115316
Clatsop10449
Baker100915
Curry70111
Tillamook6604
Grant5487
Lake4678
Harney4309
Wallowa1945
Gilliam761
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3806465

Reported Deaths: 63274
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124703324444
Riverside3015434625
San Bernardino2991864811
San Diego2815313771
Orange2729225109
Santa Clara1200322187
Kern1107341402
Sacramento1075601730
Fresno1028671722
Alameda895621272
Ventura816091030
San Joaquin746291438
Contra Costa70478810
Stanislaus633871069
Tulare49799849
Monterey43831421
San Mateo42615581
San Francisco37243556
Santa Barbara34593455
Solano33673266
Merced32284477
Sonoma30825323
Imperial28801741
Placer23477299
Kings23185247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16618245
Santa Cruz16232208
Marin14185229
Yolo14141212
Butte12644194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10363116
Napa1001480
Sutter9650113
Yuba646451
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama572763
Nevada490375
Humboldt446248
Mendocino430650
Tuolumne420771
Amador373147
Lake356345
Glenn243027
Siskiyou239337
Colusa228418
Calaveras220156
Del Norte14548
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5565
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1130
Alpine890
Unassigned400
Medford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Brookings
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 78°
Crater Lake
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 64°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Klamath Falls
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Excessive Heat Warning for Father's Day
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events