USA Today’s Grace Hauck reports on a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 found in four states and 33 countries so far. She writes:
A more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom continues to crop up across the U.S. and around the globe, threatening to further strain overburdened health care systems just as vaccines are rolling out worldwide.
At least four U.S. states and 33 countries have identified the new variant, known as B.1.1.7. Several nations have also identified an additional variant, first identified in South Africa, that also appears to infect people more easily.
“Because the variants spread more rapidly, they could lead to more cases and put even more strain on our heavily burdened health care systems,” said Dr. Henry Walke, incident manager for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 response.
“We need to be even more vigilant in our prevention measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Here’s what we know about B.1.1.7.
How much more contagious is the new strain?
The strain first identified in the U.K. spreads more easily and quickly than other strains, according to the CDC. The strain was first spotted in September in southeastern England and accounted for a quarter of cases in London by November. By the week of Dec. 9, it was responsible for 60% of cases in the city.