A more contagious variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in the UK, is spreading rapidly in the US and could become dominant in the country by March, according to the study, a preprint of which is published on the medRxiv website.
The study conducted by a group of more than 50 employees from the University of California, the University of Arizona, Helix, the Scripps Research Institute, and others has not yet been reviewed.
“Due to the sudden and rapid spread of the B strain.1.1.7 worldwide, we sought to understand the prevalence and dynamics of this variant in the United States, ” the researchers report.
According to the study, by sequencing 212 genomes of the “British” strain, the scientists found B.1.1.7 it was imported to the United States several times; its presence can be traced in the United States as early as the end of November.
“We found out that B.1.1.7 appeared in the United States near the end of November 2020, and as of January 2021, it has spread to at least 30 US states. It is important to note that we found that variant B. 1. 1. 7 is 35-45% more widespread across the country (than other variants),” the authors of the study report.
It is noted that by March 2021, the B. 1.1.7 strain may become the predominant among all coronavirus strains spreading in the country, which may lead to another sharp increase in cases of infection and, as a result, deaths.
“Our study shows that the United States is on the same trajectory as other countries where B. 1. 1. 7 has quickly become the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2, and it requires immediate and decisive action to minimize COVID-19 morbidity and mortality,” the scientists emphasize.
In mid-December 2020, it became known about discovering a new mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the UK. Later, the advisory council on new and emerging respiratory viral threats in Britain confirmed that the coronavirus variant detected in the country is spreading at a higher rate and requires the population to be even more careful.