How dangerous is the UK Covid-19 strain? Here’s a full list of US states where it has been found so far
The state of New York has found its first case of the likely more contagious, UK strain of the coronavirus. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the first confirmed case of the UK strain of Covid-19 virus has been detected in Saratoga Springs. The strain was traced back to a person who is affiliated with a jewelry store -- N Fox Jewelers, which is located on 404 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. The man in his 60s had no recent travel history, indicating that he likely contracted the virus through community spread. New York is the fourth state to confirm the UK variant.
“As you know, the State Department of Health has been aggressively looking for the UK strain of Covid, and we’re doing more testing than any state in the country and we’re doing more testing for the UK strain. The Wadsworth lab confirmed a case of the UK strain in Saratoga County, New York. It’s a gentleman who is in his 60s. He was symptomatic, but he is on the mend and he’s doing better. He did not travel recently, so this suggests that it’s in the community, it was community spread as opposed to having traveled to the UK,” said Cuomo.
The governor further explained that the sample was originally done in Saratoga Hospital and then was one of the samples that Wadsworth received as part of their UK testing program. “There are 3 other cases in the jewelry store. We don’t know if they are the UK strain of Covid, we’re testing for them now,” he added.
All individuals who visited the store from December 18 through December 24 have been asked to contact the Department of Health and receive a Covid-19 test immediately. “The store was closed from December 24th through today (January 4), but we want people who visited the store from December 18th until the store closed on December 24th to get a test,” advised Cuomo.
Which other US states have detected this variant?
Colorado: On December 29, 2020, officials announced that the first case of the UK variant called B.1.1.7, has been confirmed in Colorado. The individual is a male in his 20s who was working at a facility in Elbert County and had no travel history. According to an update provided by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, this individual is currently recovering and in isolation. The state is also investigating a second sample that was identified as a possible B.1.1.7 strain, but the sequence of that case has not been confirmed. This individual is also in isolation.
“All versions of this deadly virus are highly contagious, and it’s important that as we head into the final stretch, Coloradans make an even greater effort to wear masks around others, socialize only with people in their household, and stay at least six feet from others when out. While we are the first to confirm a case of this variant strain, it’s unlikely that this is truly the first case of this nature in the US, and in the days and weeks ahead, scientists will determine how widespread it is. It’s not uncommon for a virus to mutate or change, and some early evidence from the UK shows that this variant may spread more quickly,” noted Polis.
California: San Diego County supervisor Nathan Fletcher informed that a 30-year-old man had tested positive on December 29 for the UK variant. “Because there is no travel history, we do not believe this is an isolated case in San Diego County,” cautioned Fletcher.
Florida: This was the third state to announce it had a case of the coronavirus variant that first emerged in the UK. The man in his 20s has no history of travel. According to the Florida Department of Health, the individual is from Martin County.
Florida has evidence of the first identified case of the UK COVID-19 variant in Martin County. The individual is a male in his 20s with no history of travel. The Department is working with the CDC on this investigation. We encourage all to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation.— Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) January 1, 2021
What do we know so far?
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preliminary “epidemiologic indicators” suggest that this variant is associated with increased transmissibility, that is, it is more efficient and rapidly transmitted. However, currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy. Besides, the currently approved vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant.
“Scientists are working to learn more about this variant to better understand how easily it might be transmitted and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against it. At this time, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death,” explained the agency.
A non-peer-reviewed study by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has, meanwhile, found that the variant is 56% more transmissible than other strains. Cuomo, however, reiterated on January 4 that the UK strain is reported to be 70% more contagious than the normal Covid-19 strain. “(The strain) has been identified in California, Colorado, Florida, and 33 countries. And my guess is the states that are effective at looking for it will find it,” he noted.