Written by: Dr. Ali Khatau
Posted at: 2021-03-09 11:00:40
While there are multiple variants of coronavirus circulating in the world, experts have been particularly concerned with the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant's dangerous potential. In mid-January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned cases of the variant were likely to see "rapid growth in early 2021," adding it would likely become the predominant variant in the US by this month. So far, the agency has reported more than 3,000 known cases of the variant across 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. About a quarter of those cases are in Florida. But the CDC has said that likely does not represent the total number of such cases in the US -- but rather just the ones that have been found by analyzing positive samples, with the help of genomic sequencing. Infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist Dr. Celine Gounder told CNN on Sunday she was on an emergency meeting with a group of experts to discuss the variant. "We've been tracking it very closely since then," she said. "Where it has hit in the UK and now elsewhere in Europe, it has really been catastrophic. It has driven up rates of hospitalizations and deaths and it's very difficult to control." New research shows that in the US, the variant is 59% to 74% more transmissible than the original novel coronavirus. Gounder says cases in the US are "increasing exponentially." That's why it's crucial for the country to keep pushing to lower Covid-19 infections. Vaccination numbers are still not high enough -- and won't be high enough in several weeks' time -- to help suppress the predicted surge, experts warned. "This is sort of like we've been running this really long marathon, and we're 100 yards from the finish line and we sit down and we give up," Gounder said. "We're almost there, we just need to give ourselves a bit more time to get a larger proportion of the population covered with vaccines."
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