Health care workers prepare to get vaccinations for Pfizer Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California on January 7, 2021.
Lucy Nicholson | Reuters
The White House coronavirus task force said there could be a new variant of the virus that has emerged in the US and is driving the spread, according to a document obtained from NBC News.
The strain variant is already spreading in communities in addition to the British variant and is possibly 50% more transferable according to the report issued to states on January 3rd.
The task force said the recent spike in cases has been almost double what it saw in the spring and summer seasons, according to the report. The US has at least 228,400 new ones Covid-19 Cases and at least 2,760 virus-related deaths per day based on a seven day average calculated by CNBC using data from Johns Hopkins University. The US reported its deadliest day on Thursday with more than 4,000 deaths.
“This acceleration suggests that there may be a US variant that has evolved here, in addition to the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities and potentially 50% more transmissible,” the report said. “Aggressive attenuation must be used to match a more aggressive virus. Without a consistent implementation of effective facial masking (two or three layers and well-fitting) and strict social distancing, epidemics could quickly worsen as these variants spread and prevail. “
“It is very likely that many variants will develop simultaneously around the world,” said Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman, in an email to CNBC. He added that there is a “strong possibility” that there are variants in the US, but it could be weeks or months before officials identify a particular variant that “is fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the UK “.
“Since the pandemic began, researchers have monitored US strains, including 5,700 samples taken in November and December,” he said. “So far, neither CDC researchers nor analysts have seen any particular variant emerge in the United States, as did the emergence of B.1.1.7 in the UK or B.1.351 in South Africa.”
Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services have not returned CNBC’s requests for comments.
Few details about the new U.S. strain were given in the report, including how long it had spread. In the past few weeks, the US has increased its genome sequences to detect other strains.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Friday that the new strain found by the White House task force appears to be behaving like the one circulating in the UK.
But he said “Close the bell“The new strain is not the same as the one in the UK known as B.1.1.7, adding,” If it were, we would recognize this because we are looking for it. “
Public health officials were concerned about the new strain of the virus found in the UK. The CDC has identified at least 52 Covid 19 cases with the mutation B.1.1.7 in the United States. This emerges from data last published on the agency’s website on Thursday. However, the CDC warns that their numbers “do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7 ancestry cases circulating in the United States” and may not coincide with the numbers reported by local officials.
So far, the CDC only shows California, Florida, New York, Colorado and Georgia with cases of variant B.1.1.7, but other states like Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Texas announced the arrival of the tribe in their states on Thursday.
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York warned Thursday The new strain from the UK could force the state into another economic standstill if it spreads uncontrollably and weakens state hospitals.
“In the UK it overtook everything in three weeks,” said Cuomo. “If the proliferation takes hold in the UK in New York, the hospital stay rate is rising, the hospital staff is sick, then we have a real problem and we are stuck again.”
In the task force’s report released over the weekend, officials urged states not to delay vaccinating people over 65 who are prone to serious illnesses.
“No vaccines should be in the freezer, they should be held in your arms now. Active and aggressive immunization in the face of this surge would save lives,” the task force said.
Michael Osterholm, Member of the President-Elect Joe BidenThe Covid-19 Advisory Board said Tuesday that the More new variants of the virus would likely emerge in the US.
Osterholm, epidemiologist and The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota said in an interview with CNBC that the strain discovered in the UK was “a very big problem”.
“And it’s the first of likely a number of these strains to emerge when we are at this point in the pandemic,” he added.