CDC warns new COVID-19 variant is in US and spreading fast

A new and more contagious variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strain is spreading quickly in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is urging the public to follow prevention guidelines. The agency warns that this variant may 'increase the US pandemic trajectory in the coming months.'

The matter involves SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.7, a more contagious form of the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the most recent update from the CDC, this variant has been found in a total of 10 states in the US. In order to prevent a big uptick in cases, the CDC says the public must increase their compliance with preventative measures like wearing masks.

The big problem is that it is easier for this variant to spread through populations, a fact underscored by its increased presence in countries around the world. At this point, the CDC says a greater percentage of the public vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 may be necessary in order to protect the public from this disease.

This particular variant B.1.1.7 has likely been making its way around since last September and was first reported by the UK in mid-December. More than 30 countries have detected the presence of this variant since the announcement, a total of 76 of which have been reported across 10 US states as of January 13.

Using a model to estimate the trajectory of this variant, the CDC estimates that the US will experience 'rapid growth' in cases in coming weeks, with the variant becoming the nation's predominant one sometime in March, a full year after the pandemic was announced.

In order to reduce this impact, the CDC warns that the public must engage in the advised protective measures, including strict isolation and quarantine in cases of infections or possible infections, as well as socially distancing, avoiding large gatherings, using masks in public, and keeping one's hands clean using hand sanitizer and soap.

The goal is to reduce the number of cases as much as possible while the vaccine continues to roll out. The CDC says the public should get vaccinated for the virus as soon as they're able to, which represents the greatest way to bring the pandemic to a gradual end.

The CDC's COVID-19 vaccine tracker shows more than 31 million distributed doses of the vaccine in the US as of early January 15, 2021. More than 12 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine, which requires a second dose a few weeks later.