Researchers from the United States concluded that one of the coronavirus strains managed to spread across 15 countries before scientists discovered it. They call for the use of new tools to find new threats to the population.
By October 2020, a contagious variant of SARS-CoV-2 was spreading in the United States for several months, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Texas. Scientists first discovered it in early December in the UK, where the highly infectious and more deadly strain of the coronavirus is believed to have originated.
“By the time we learned about the British strain, it had already spread across the globe,” said Lauren Ansel Meyers, director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We estimate that variant B117 probably ended up in the US in October 2020, two months before we learned of its existence.”
Analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that between September 22 and December 7, 2020, travelers from the UK transported this strain to 15 more countries.
In connection with the publication of this document, scientists have also developed a new tool that can be used to detect the presence of new variants of the virus. The method shows the number of virus samples that must be sequenced in order to detect new variants when they first appear.
“Health officials are looking for new ways to combat the unpredictability of this virus and its future strains,” said Spencer Woody, who also participated in the study. “Our new calculator determines how many positive SARS-CoV-2 samples need to be detected to be a new variant of the coronavirus that is unknown to us.”