US reports its first known case of new UK Covid variant

3 years ago 1013

A man in Colorado has become the first known US case of the newly identified strain of Covid-19 circulating in the UK. The new variant is thought to be more contagious than other, established strains and has prompted some countries to restrict travel from the UK.

The Colorado man who contracted the new strain, called B.1.1.7, is in his 20s, and had no travel history, according to the state’s health department. In a statement, Governor Jared Polis said that health officials are conducting an investigation into how the man might have contracted the virus, while he recovers in isolation.

Although the new variant had not been found in the US until now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that it was likely already circulating through the country. The agency said while the new strain has not been identified through sequencing efforts “labs have only 51,000 of the 17m US cases” – and the new strain might not have been picked up.

“Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation,” the CDC said in a statement. “Given the small fraction of US infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected.”

The new variant has also recently been detected in Spain, Sweden and Canada.

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new Covid-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious,” Polis said in a statement. “We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels.”

Experts say that the coronavirus vaccines currently being distributed are likely to still work to protect people against the new strain.

More details soon …

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