Currently, COVID-19 UK is the dominant coronavirus strain in the US. Also known as B.1.1.7, the strain first appeared in the United Kingdom last year. This strain is a more virulent version that type that spreads more easily. According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s now the most common lineage circulating in the United States.”
Prevalence of COVID-19 UK Among Younger Americans
Walensky’s announcement comes at the heels of significant developments in the pandemic. Cases are once rising in the United States. In particular, more younger Americans are showing symptoms. This is fueling fears that another surge is forthcoming for the US. Studies show that the COVID-19 UK strain is easier to transmit among younger folk. In addition, health officials point out to youth sports and daycare centers as the origins of new outbreaks in the country. “Hospitals are seeing more and more younger adults — those in their 30s and 40s — admitted with severe disease,” she said.
The CDC head urged Americans to stay vigilant on coronavirus. She also urged Americans to vaccinate as soon as possible. Communities and states with high levels of transmission need to curtail or suspend sports activities for younger participants to prevent the spread further. Walensky also suggested that affected communities suspend large events. “The virus still has a hold on us. We need to remain vigilant,” she said.
CDC Early Warning
As early as January, the CDC already warned the country that the B.1.1.7 strain would dominate cases in the US by the end of March. That warning came true on schedule. Given Walensky’s pronouncements.
Based on evidence collected in the UK, “it was predicted that this SARS-CoV-2 variant would dominate the USA within a matter of weeks. The prediction was indeed correct, and confirms that the work done in the UK was excellent,” said Jeremy Luban. Luban is a biochemist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Previous studies of the COVID-19 UK variant showed this variant is 50% more transmissible than the original strain identified in China in December 2019. Luban posited that this explains the sudden increase in cases in the United States. “That being said, the more likely problem is that many states have opened up restaurants and other public indoor spaces, places where transmission rates are highest,” he said.
COVID-19 UK Strain Also Makes People Sicker
Since B.1.1.7 spreads more easily, it also means more people can die from the condition. In fact, as this COVID-19 UK strain spreads easier, it poses the bigger potential to kill more people. Epidemiologist Emma Hodcroft at the University of Bern in Switzerland warned people to remain cautious. “If you then crank that exponential growth up to a steeper curve, you very quickly start infecting many, many, many more people than you would have beforehand,” she said back in January.
In addition, new evidence points out that the COVID-19 UK strain makes people sicker compared to other variants. William Hanage, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, said that B.1.1.7 strain inevitably would wind up in the US and take the dominant place. He said the timing is more auspicious. “[A]t least this is happening at a point when we have a decent amount of vaccination even if it is nowhere near enough to control B.1.1.7 on its own,” he wrote in an email.
US Still With Highest Coronavirus Cases
Currently, the US leads the entire world with around 31 million confirmed coronavirus cases since March of last year. The US also recorded 556,000 deaths due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Hanage said two factors help drive down the mean age of patients in US hospitals. First, with older adults vaccinated, it’s the younger ones who wind up in the hospital,” he said. Second is the prevalence of the UK strain. The younger people infected with the COVID-19 UK strain will likely show more severe symptoms. That’s because the B.1.17 is more virulent.
Watch the ABC News video reporting on the CDC’s announcement that the COVID-19 UK strain is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the US:
Have you received your COVID-19 vaccine already? How are vaccination efforts in your area? Do you think there’s more to worry about given the prevalence of the more severe COVID-19 UK strain? Let us know what you think about the pandemic by sharing your thoughts below.