In a follow-up on the COVID-19 variant virus situation in the US and in Florida, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in an update Monday the number of B.1.1.7 Lineage Cases in the United States has more than doubled to 293 cases in one week.
Florida has now reported 92 cases, topping all states detecting this strain, followed closely by California with 90.
In addition to the UK variant B.1.1.7, yesterday Minnesota reported the first known Brazil P.1 variant in the US in a resident of the Twin Cities metro area.
While 293 variant cases may catch the eye, it is assuredly a low number as only a small percentage of COVID-19 cases are tested using genomic sequencing analysis.
In a recent CDC MMWR report, researchers from the CDC and elsewhere say modeling data indicate that B.1.1.7 has the potential to increase the U.S. pandemic trajectory in the coming months.
The experience in the United Kingdom and the B.1.1.7 models presented in this report illustrate the impact a more contagious variant can have on the number of cases in a population. The increased transmissibility of this variant requires an even more rigorous combined implementation of vaccination and mitigation measures (e.g., distancing, masking, and hand hygiene) to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2. These measures will be more effective if they are instituted sooner rather than later to slow the initial spread of the B.1.1.7 variant. Efforts to prepare the health care system for further surges in cases are warranted. Increased transmissibility also means that higher than anticipated vaccination coverage must be attained to achieve the same level of disease control to protect the public compared with less transmissible variants.
The increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant warrants rigorous implementation of public health strategies to reduce transmission and lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7, buying critical time to increase vaccination coverage. CDC’s modeling data show that universal use of and increased compliance with mitigation measures and vaccination are crucial to reduce the number of new cases and deaths substantially in the coming months.