CDC says new coronavirus strain in UK could be “already in the US”

A new widespread coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom could already be circulating in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday.

In a scientific statement, the agency said that scientists are working to better understand how easily it could be transmitted and still do not know why it appeared in the UK

“Although a variant may predominate in a geographic area, this alone does not mean that the variant is more infectious,” the CDC said.

The CDC noted that although the strain has not yet been detected in the United States, it is probably already circulating.

“Continuous travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current infections in the UK, increase the likelihood of imports. Given the small fraction of U.S. infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States undetected, “the CDC said.

The viruses were sequenced in only about 51,000 of the 17 million cases in the United States, the agency said.

Different variants of the virus often appear or disappear by chance, the CDC said, which could be the case for the strain in the UK – known as VUI 202012/01 for “variant under investigation”.

Alternatively, it may occur because it is more appropriate to spread to humans.

The CDC acknowledged that “the rapid shift from being a rare strain to becoming a common strain has been a concern for scientists in the UK,” but added that “there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or increases the risk of death.” “.

The coronavirus moves regularly, the CDC said, gaining about a new mutation in its genome every two weeks. Most commercial diagnostic tests are able to detect the virus despite this.

Also, there is still no indication that the new strain interferes with patients’ response to current coronavirus vaccines.

The CDC, along with state and local health departments, is launching a new surveillance system in January to monitor any genetic modification of virus strains that have already been identified and sequenced in the United States.

The new variant has led to a series of travel restrictions aimed at preventing its spread beyond the UK. However, the countries of the European Union have taken a random approach, resulting in major trade disruptions. Sudden restrictions have also left many people stranded at airports.

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“This is a big difference than stopping travel altogether and banning travel altogether, which is really a pretty dramatic step. That’s not in the books right now, “Fauci told Good Morning America.

Fauci also said that Americans should assume that the British strain is “already here”.