New UK COVID-19 variant arrives in the U.S

New UK COVID-19 variant arrives in the U.S

Bree Soule, Online Editor in Chief

A new variant of COVID-19 has emerged in the United Kingdom (UK) with an unusually large number of mutations and has been detected in numerous other countries, including the United States. This variant is called B.1.1.7 and was discovered in September of 2020.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that by March, a majority of new COVID-19 cases could be related to this new variant.

With 27,000 people in hospitals with COVID in England, they have been forced to go into another lockdown as the new variant spreads. According to USA Today, “Scientists in the U.K. estimate that the new variant is 40 to 70 percent more infectious based on analysis of affected populations in Britain.” However, other scientists are skeptical of this number and believe it could be lower.

Currently, the unknown factors of this variant are how widely it has spread and how the new variants differ. As reported by Express, it is highly unlikely that the symptoms of this new strain will differ from its predecessor. 

“It’s able to bind to the receptors on cells better, and therefore is transmitted better,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said in an article with USA Today.

Although the variant is slightly different than its predecessor, researchers believe the COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed will most likely protect against B.1.1.7, however, there is no data to back this up.

The CDC is working with other public health agencies, monitoring the situation closely. As more data is collected, the CDC will release more information on the topic.