A man in Colorado marks the first known U.S. case of the newly identified Covid-19 strain circulating in the UK. The new variant is considered more contagious than other established strains and has led some countries to restrict travel from the UK.
The Colorado man who contracted the new B.1.1.7 strain is in his twenties and had no travel history, according to the state health department. In a statement, Governor Jared Polis said health officials are conducting an investigation into how the man may have contracted the virus while recovering in isolation.
Although the new variant had not yet been found in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that it was likely already spread across the country. The agency said while the new strain was not identified through sequencing efforts, “laboratories only have 51,000 of the 17 million US cases” – and the new strain may not have been included.
“Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant in current infections in the United Kingdom, increases the likelihood of imports,” said a CDC statement. “Given the low proportion of US infections sequenced, the variant could already be in the US without being discovered.”
The new variant was also recently discovered in Spain, Sweden and Canada.
“We don’t know much about this new variant of Covid-19, but scientists in the UK are warning the world that it is far more contagious,” Polis said in a statement. “We are working to prevent the spread and contain the virus at all levels.”
Experts say the coronavirus vaccines currently being distributed will likely still help protect people from the new strain.
More details soon …