The highly contagious UK coronavirus strains are now more prevalent in the United States than the original strains that devastated the country last spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
“It was the most common lineage of the era,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky said at a White House press conference.
It was found that the B117 strain, believed to be 70 percent more contagious than the original version in all 50 US states, accounts for more than half of all cases in the country.
Last week, New York City said 70 percent of the new COVID-19 cases in the Big Apple came from different strains – although most were the self-grown B 1.526 variant, about a quarter of those who received it. Tests during the week of March 15-21 are variable in the UK.
The CDC said in January it expected that the UK strain, first reported in the United States in December, would become the most prominent virus strain in the United States by the end of March.
But unlike the South African and Brazilian strains, the vaccine doesn’t seem to degrade the vaccine, health officials said.
On Monday, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said the UK strain should be treated as “almost a new virus”.
He cautioned against assuming that the strain acts like a previously known virus strain that causes COVID.