The highly contagious variant of COVID-19 that was first found in the UK has now been identified in every state in the US and has been spreading in the US since October. More than 15,000 cases of variant B.1.1.7 have been reported in the US The variant may be more deadly than the original strain of COVID-19, experts warn.
In the UK, scientists discovered variant B.1.1.7 in early December.
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“When we heard about the UK variant in December, it was already quietly spreading around the world,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin and a professor of integrative biology said. “We estimate that the B117 variant likely arrived in the US in October 2020, two months before we knew it existed.”
Scientists recently analyzed data from 15 countries to estimate the likelihood that UK visitors will spread the variant. The result was that the virus was indeed reported in all 15 countries in mid-November.
“This study highlights the importance of laboratory surveillance,” Meyers said. “The rapid and extensive sequencing of virus samples is essential for the early detection and monitoring of new variants of interest.”
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