A new study has suggested that the coronavirus variant first detected in the UK late last year is spreading rapidly across the US, raising concerns over another resurgence in the hardest-hit country.
Analyzing half a million coronavirus tests and hundreds of genomes, researchers have predicted that within a month, the UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, could become predominant in the US, potentially bringing a surge of new cases and increased risk of death, reports Xinhua news agency.
The study, posted on the preprint server MedRxiv on Sunday, echoed a forecast issued last month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which warned that the B.1.1.7 could become predominant by March if it behaved the way it did in Britain.
According to the study, detection of the variant increased at a logistic rate similar to those observed elsewhere, with a doubling rate of a little over a week and an increased transmission rate of 35 to 45 per cent.
Currently there are three dominant coronavirus variants spreading in the US, according to CDC data.
A total of 699 infection cases of the variants have been reported in at least 34 states.
The vast majority of these cases, 690, were caused by B.1.1.7, while there were six cases of a new strain initially discovered in South Africa, called B.1.351, and three cases of the P.1 strain first discovered in Brazil.
New Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are declining in the country from recent surges, but health experts have warned that the new contagious strains may threaten to undo progress and lead to a resurgence.
The US still accounts for the highest number of cases and deaths in the world, making it the hardest-hit country globally.
In its latest update on Tuesday morning, the JHU revealed that the country’s overall caseload and death toll stood at 27,088,044 and 464,845, respectively.