The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned officials about the further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the US. Experts from the CDC have said that new variants of the virus are likely to shoot up the spread of the virus in the US, which means officials need to increase their efforts to save people. The new variants of the virus have been said to be more contagious than the previous one. The new variant of the virus named B.1.1.7, which has been found in the UK, has been spreading in the US as well. Many studies have revealed that it can aggravate the already deteriorated situation in the US. The CDC health experts have said that the findings of the new report suggest that people need to be more careful regarding safety measures such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and personal hygiene. The report has indicated that it is going to be more difficult for health authorities to control the situation in the US now. Dr. Gregory Armstrong from the Office of Advanced Molecular Detection at CDC’s respiratory disease division has said that along with precautionary measures, the government needs to speed up the vaccine rollout as well. The CDC has reported that many studies have shown that the B.1.1.7 variant has been spreading in several states of the US quite effectively as compared to any other strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The findings of this report have been released in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
The CDC has said that the rate of vaccination in the US is much slower than what the government has planned and hoped for. Higher coverage of vaccination is required to build herd immunity among people. The US has been the most affected by the pandemic, which has resulted in the death of many people. As per the data of John Hopkins University, around 23 million people have been diagnosed with COVID19 so far. Nearly 390000 people have lost their lives during the pandemic. Experts have said that the B.1.1.7 variant can easily infect humans. It has been identified in a dozen states in the US; however, the CDC thinks that it might be far more widespread in the US as the surveillance is quite poor. The agency has said that the pattern of the mutations, which make the virus more deadly and contagious, is taking place independently as it infects people. Experts have claimed that the more people are diagnosed with the virus, the more chances the virus will mutate. The CDC team has done an experiment to show what might occur in the future. The team of experts has made some assumptions, as the transmissibility of the new variant and the level of immunity achieved against the virus in the US are not clear. In one scenario, the new strain is 50 percent more contagious as compared to the current circulating variant. In this model, the prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant is initially low, but as it is more contagious than the current variants, it shows rapid growth in the early month of 2021 and later it becomes predominant in March 2021. If the new variant behaves the way it has been behaving in the UK, Denmark, and Ireland, then it will become massively prevalent in a larger proportion of the cases irrespective of mitigation efforts.
The lead author of the report Gregory Armstrong has said that the new strain of the virus might not lead to higher rates of hospitalization or higher rates of mortality. He has noted that as the model suggests that the new variant of the virus is going to be prevalent in a larger proportion of the cases if we can make people practice precautionary measures, the number of cases might not shoot up. The CDC has signed deals with many large private labs to quickly sequence tens of thousands of the SARS-CoV-2 virus-positive samples every month. The agency has funded around seven academic bodies to carry out genomic surveillance in association with public health agencies. The agency has been closely watching the variant, which has been found in South Africa, which is now known as B.1.351, and the one strain called B.1.1.28, which has been identified in four travelers from Brazil when they have landed in Japan. The CDC team has said that these variants have an assemblage of mutations. However, many health experts are concerned that the virus might change in a way, which can dodge the immunity provided by the vaccine or the immunity stimulated by the antibody-based therapies. New COVID19 vaccines are made to be quick and easy to change in order to match the new circulating strains of the virus, however, a major change might result in people getting re-vaccinated. Experts are worried that the virus might change itself in a way, which will make it harder to detect in a standard COVID19 test.