Registered nurses transfer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from a bottle into a syringe ready for vaccination at the Corona High School gymnasium in the Riverside County city of Corona, California on January 15, 2021, a day after California began offering the coronavirus vaccine to residents 65 and older. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

The mutated coronavirus variant, which was originally discovered in the United Kingdom and is found to be more contagious, is rapidly spreading across the United States and may become the dominant strain in many states as soon as by March, a new study suggests.

A not yet peer-reviewed preprint report, posted on the MedRxiv server on Sunday, comes from a collaboration of over 50 scientists from leading US universities and research centres and provides data to support a forecast made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January that showed the variant becoming dominant in the US by late March.
"Because of the sudden and rapid rise of the B.1.1.7 [UK] variant across the world, we sought to understand the prevalence and growth dynamics of this variant in the U.S., from early emergence to rapid onward transmission. ... These findings show that B.1.1.7 will likely become the dominant variant in many U.S. states by March 2021, leading to further surges of COVID-19 in the country, unless urgent mitigation efforts are immediately implemented," the study read.

The report further suggested that the UK variant was imported into the United States multiple times in November 2020.

"We found that the earliest timing of introductions into the U.S. ...the likely start of sustained local transmission in California of November 27, 2020. ... We found that the other U.S. clades had median [the most recent common ancestor] TMRCAs in December 2020 and January 2021, suggesting repeated introductions of B.1.1.7 into the U.S. from international locations from November 2020 through the present time," the report read.

UK public health officials in December announced the emergence of the new coronavirus strain that is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible. The new strain was first discovered in southeast England in September and subsequently spread rapidly throughout the United Kingdom and continental Europe.
Source: ANI / Sputnik