- The White House Coronavirus Task Force shared a report with states that the possible “American variants” may be the cause of the surge in coronavirus.
- The report shows that the American variant is more easily spread than the original virus, just like the strains reported in the UK and South Africa.
- But the CDC told Business Insider that there is no evidence of “American variants” and it may take several months to determine whether a single strain has caused a surge in cases.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force sent a report to the states on Sunday warning that there may be an “American variant”
The report suggests that this American variant may be more easily spread than the original virus that emerged in China, just like the new strains identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351).
However, there is no scientific evidence that a more contagious version of the coronavirus has originated in the United States or has begun to spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement to Business Insider on Friday: “So far, CDC researchers and analysts have not seen a specific variant of B that appeared in the United States when it appeared. British 1.1 .7 or South Africa’s B.1.351”.
Human behavior has a great influence on the rate of transmission
According to CNBC, the working group’s report provides little information about how long the described new strain in the United States may have been circulating, nor does it provide information about the mutations contained in its genetic map.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” that the task force’s hypothesis about the existence of the American variant was partly based on the similarity of the pandemic growth curves in the United States and the United Kingdom. A fact.
-Meg Tirrell (@megtirrell) January 8, 2021
According to the CNN report, the task force’s report said: “The incidence of this fall-winter outfit is almost twice the rate of increase in the spring and summer armor cases. This acceleration indicates that there may be an American variant here. To the British variant that has spread in our community.”
In view of the insufficient evidence provided by the task force, the frustrated officials of the CDC tried to remove the statement about the suspicious variant from the recent report, but according to the New York Times report, they were unsuccessful.
Even in the UK, variants are not the only reason for the dramatic increase in cases.
Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at the Howard Hughes Medical School, previously told Business Insider: “Human behavior has a very large impact on transmission, and it may be greater than any SARS-CoV-2 variant. The biological differences are much greater.”
The variant reported in the UK does have a higher reproductive value or R0 value, which is the average number of infections per patient. The World Health Organization announced in December that this number was 1.5 instead of 1.1, which means that an average of 100 patients will infect another 150 instead of 110.
However, regardless of the genetic mutation, mitigation measures such as social isolation and cover-up play an important role in the degree of virus transmission.
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The U.S. does not have enough genome sequencing to discover new mutations
In order to monitor the many versions of the coronavirus that are circulating around the world, each version is separated by some small changes in the genome, the researchers sequenced the virus samples and tracked the changes over time. British researchers first determined B.1.1.7 in this way in mid-September.
But the United States lags behind many countries in keeping up with the new variants. American researchers’ genetic sequencing results were less than 0.01% of their coronavirus cases: 2.5 cases per 1,000 cases. The CDC reported that a total of only 51,000 coronavirus samples were sequenced in the United States. In the UK, 45 of every 1,000 cases in the laboratory are sequenced.
This may be the reason why the United States missed the introduction of the British strain, and why it is difficult to identify new strains in the United States. It was not until December 29 that the United States reported the first case involving B.1.1.7. According to Charles Chiu, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, that was at least three weeks after the strain entered the country. .
So far, more than 50 cases of B.1.1.7 have been confirmed in six states. Except for one of them, no one has traveled abroad, which indicates that the strain has been spreading silently for some time.
Chiu previously told Business Insider: “It’s very likely to have it in every state.”
Even if it is indeed possible that new variants in the United States have caused the increase in cases, it may take months to identify connections.
“It is very likely that there are variants in the United States; however, it may take weeks or months to determine whether there is a single virus variant that causes COVID-19, contributing to a surge in the United States, similar to the surge in the United Kingdom.” The CDC stated in a statement. Zhong said to “Business Insider.”
Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said in a tweet on Thursday: “There may be similar indigenous variants in the United States, but no one is looking for it.”
He added: “Like everything else in our national public health response, we have done very little to sequence the viral genome.”