UK Variant Now Dominant Strain
Last week, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control confirmed that the virus’s UK variant is now the dominant strain infecting Americans. The B.1.1.7 variant is officially the predominant strain in five different US regions.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had previously pleaded with Americans to “hold on a little longer” before letting go of restrictions, warning that we were not yet out of the woods. “These trends are pointing to two clear truths — one, the virus still has a hold on us, infecting people and putting them in harm’s way, and we need to remain vigilant, and two, we need to continue to accelerate our vaccination efforts.”
UK Variant Is Now the Dominant Strain
Variant has Higher Trasmission Rates
The variant first arose in the UK and was found in Colorado at the end of December. Dr. Fauci has said that it’s responsible for a 50% increase in transmission, most likely contributing to the surge in cases in places like Michigan even as vaccine distribution is moving at a rapid pace. Vaccine eligibility opened for everyone country-wide on April 19, but the timeline for reaching herd immunity is still foggy given Republican vaccine hesitancy.
There are Contrasting Reports on Variant Disease Severity
Although the variant is more transmissible, there are contrasting reports on its disease severity. A study from Nature last month determined an increased risk for death from infection with the variant than the original strain. However, this week, two studies published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and The Lancet Public Health offered more promising news. They found that the variant was not linked to more severe disease outcomes and death, or higher numbers of symptoms. However, they found a higher viral load in their nasal and throat samples, consistent with previous reports that the variant is more transmissible. Scientists still have a lot to learn about the variants and their effects.
Third Surge May Be Reaching It's Peak
At the beginning of the year, states began relaxing restrictions, particularly those with Republican governors. They may have been encouraged by a drop in coronavirus cases in late January and early February compared to the current trajectory. However, the decline leveled off at a number still higher than the numbers from the winter. Michigan, in particular, had a high surge in cases as the state legislature fought with Governor Gretchen Whitmer over mask mandates and restrictions. Thankfully, it seems case numbers have peaked in the state, with infection rates dropping by 12.5%. That could be a sign that vaccinations are starting to affect transmission.
Help Curb the Surge by Getting Vaccinated
You can help curb Covid-19 transmission by getting vaccinated. Please do your part, so we all can enjoy a Covid-19-free (or almost free) summer. If you’re having trouble finding a vaccination location, you can click this link.
How Can You Help?
Covid-19 has wreaked havoc in the lives of Americans. It has hit working families who are now out of work, and small businesses that were forced to close their doors particularly hard. At Voices of Hope Inc., we seek to help those who qualify battle financial devastation. Please consider contributing to our mission by visiting the Voices of Hope Project Shop.
Author Mayra Conte is a graduate student from Southwest Florida who blogs about current events with a focus on Covid-19. Follow her @mayracontes.
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