Researchers Report on SARS-CoV-2 Variant

Galloway SE, et al. (2020) report in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC), lineage B.1.1.7, also referred to as VOC 202012/01 or 20I/501Y.V1.

On Dec. 14, 2020, the United Kingdom reported a SARS-CoV-2 VOC, B.1.1.7, a variant that is estimated to have emerged in September 2020 and has quickly become the dominant circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant in England. B.1.1.7 has been detected in more than 30 countries, including the United States. As of Jan. 13, 2021, approximately 76 cases of B.1.1.7 have been detected in 10 U.S. states.

As the authors explain, "Multiple lines of evidence indicate that B.1.1.7 is more efficiently transmitted than are other SARS-CoV-2 variants. The modeled trajectory of this variant in the U.S. exhibits rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant variant in March. Increased SARS-CoV-2 transmission might threaten strained healthcare resources, require extended and more rigorous implementation of public health strategies, and increase the percentage of population immunity required for pandemic control. Taking measures to reduce transmission now can lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7 and allow critical time to increase vaccination coverage. Collectively, enhanced genomic surveillance combined with continued compliance with effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential to limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread."

To read further:

Reference: Galloway SE, et al. Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Lineage — United States, December 29, 2020–January 12, 2021. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 70. Jan. 15, 2021.

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