CDC: More contagious COVID-19 strain could lead to spike in U.S. cases by March

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RN Connie Garcia extracts a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine which will be administered to a Texas Tech University Health Science Center student at Texas Tech University Health Science Center’s Academic Building Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Odessa, Texas. (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP)

(NEXSTAR) – The more contagious COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K. will likely become the predominant strain in the U.S. by March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC warned that the strain, called B.1.1.7, could lead to a spike in cases across the U.S. It has already been detected in ten states.

The strain has been circulating in the U.K. since September and has quickly become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the region.

“Taking measures to reduce transmission now can lessen the potential impact of B.1.1.7 and allow critical time to increase vaccination coverage,” the CDC said.

The variant is not known to cause more severe cases nor increase the risk of a fatal infection.

It is likely the vaccine will protect against B.1.1.7 as vaccine designers take into consideration the potential for mutation when creating vaccines.

There are currently three known variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, including strains first detected in South Africa, called 1.351, and Brazil, called P.1.

Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the coronavirus pandemic will get worse before it gets better, projecting another 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the first five weeks of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

Speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union,” Klain said Biden was inheriting a dire situation, saying even with vaccines, “It’s going to take a while to turn this around.”

Biden has set a goal of injecting 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine in his first 100 days in office, a goal Klain said they were on pace to meet.

Klain added he believed there was enough supply of the pair of vaccines currently granted emergency approval to ensure that those who have received their first shot will get the required second.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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