In accordance with the CDC, the brand new pressure of Covid within the UK may already be floating round undetected within the US

Medical worker Christina Mathers attends to an unconscious patient who is holding the patient’s hand in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on December 21, 2020.

Go Nakamura | Getty Images

The new coronavirus strain, which was first discovered in the UK, could already be in circulation in the US without notice, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

While the variant has not yet been found in the United States, the CDC noted that scientists have not sequenced the genetic coding for many Covid-19 infections here. The CDC said “Viruses have only been sequenced from about 51,000 of the 17 million US cases,” so the new strain may have gotten out of hand.

“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 is currently known as “SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01”, said CDC. It was spread across south east England in November and is reported to account for 60% of recent infections in London, the agency said. CDC said it did not know why the new strain of the virus appeared, but it could have “just happened by accident”.

“Alternatively, it may arise because it is better suited to spread in humans,” said CDC. “This rapid transition from a rare strain to a common strain has affected scientists in the UK who are urgently evaluating the characteristics of the variant strain and the disease it causes.”

The new coronavirus “mutates regularly,” CDC noted, but the vast majority of the mutations are insignificant. The meaning of the new variant, first found in the UK, has yet to be determined, but the CDC noted that based on earlier data from the UK, the new strain “could potentially be more quickly transmissible than other circulating strains”.

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