New Covid variant first found in UK could become dominant strain in U.S. by March, CDC says


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield holds up a CDC document that reads “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations” as he speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing “Review of Coronavirus Response Efforts” on Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S., September 16, 2020.

Andrew Harnik | Reuters

A more contagious strain of the coronavirus first found in the United Kingdom late last year could become the dominant strain in the United States by March as the nation races to vaccinate people against the disease, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The modeled trajectory of this variant in the U.S. exhibits rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant variant in March,” according to the CDC study released Friday.

Researchers warned that increased spread could add more strain on the nation’s hospitals and will require greater public health strategies to tamp down the virus’ spread until enough people are vaccinated.

So far, the U.S. has only found 76 Covid-19 cases with the highly infectious variant, known as B.1.1.7, according to CDC data last updated on Wednesday. However, many of the cases that have been identified have been in people with no travel histories, suggesting the variant is spreading in the community undetected.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.

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