New COVID-19 Variants: 7 Key Questions Answered By Experts
Are the new variants already in the United States?
The UK variant has already been reported in more than 20 states, in Americans who haven’t traveled abroad in recent weeks, which further confirms the variant’s high transmissibility rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the UK version of the virus could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March.
On the other hand, the first case of infection with the Brazilian variant has also been reported in Minnesota earlier this week. For the time being, the South African variant, which has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases of any country in Africa, hasn’t been detected on US territory. However, genome sequencing tests are constantly being performed by US labs to detect the new strains and experts believe it won’t be long before the South African variant reaches the United States as well. (Later edit: The South African variant has been reported in South Carolina and Baltimore at the end of January).
According to Gigi Gronvall, PhD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the US needs to step up the genomic sequencing tests as “identifying concerning variants is critical to implementing containment strategies, such as contact tracing and isolation”.