In any scenario studied by the CDC, the strain in the United Kingdom, which British researchers say is approximately 50 percent more transmissible than the more common coronavirus strain, will report most cases in the United States by some point in March.
The CDC has published modeling data to support its forecast, showing a rapid jump in strain-related infections in the United Kingdom. The agency said the emergence of these mutation-laden variants required greater efforts to curb the spread of the virus ̵
It is not yet known that there is an option to cause more serious illnesses, although more infections would inevitably mean a higher number of deaths in general, as the CDC made clear in an information chart published on Friday: “MORE DISTRIBUTION – MORE CASES – MORE DEATHS “.
The CDC report “talks about the urgency of vaccines. It’s now a race against the virus, “said William Hanaj, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Chan.
Researchers both inside and outside the government have stressed the need for the public to adhere to proven methods to limit the spread of viruses, such as wearing a mask, social distance, crowd avoidance and good hand hygiene.
“We know what works and what to do,” said CDC scientist Jay Butler.
The emergence of highly contagious variants has attracted the full attention of scientists, who in recent weeks have warned that these mutations require more careful monitoring. The CDC and its partners in private and academic laboratories are stepping up their genomic sequencing efforts to raise awareness of what is already circulating. Experts believe that there may be many variants containing mutations that are worth a closer look.
“It’s a worrying situation. We are increasing our monitoring of emerging options. This virus sometimes surprises us, “Butler said.
Mutations may limit the efficacy of vaccines or therapeutic drugs such as monoclonal antibodies. Scientists believe the vaccines are likely to remain effective because they elicit a strong immune response, but such assurances are combined with warning notes about how much remains unknown.
Mutations in the coronavirus are not unexpected, as all viruses mutate. There are now several ‘options of concern’ that are under strict control, including those first identified in South Africa and Brazil, and US authorities have said that genomic surveillance is still growing here and that there may be other options in circulation, which have not yet been identified as improving transmission.
“We continue to assume that these three options we know about now will not be the only options that come up and that excite us,” said Greg Armstrong, head of the CDC’s strain monitoring program, on Friday.
The CDC model suggests that the level of pain and suffering in March, when the new option is expected to be dominant, depends on actions taken today to try to reduce infection levels. Because the herd immunity threshold depends in part on how infected the virus is, the emergence of a more transmissible strain may prolong pandemic lubrication efforts.
The emergence of mutation-laden variants in recent weeks has alerted the CDC and the scientific community to the acceleration of infections in the UK, Denmark, Ireland and other countries where the variant called B.1.1.7 is spreading.
“Increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2 could threaten strained health resources, require expanded and stricter implementation of public health strategies, and increase the percentage of population immunity needed to fight the pandemic,” the CDC wrote. “Taking measures to reduce transmission can now reduce the potential impact of B.1.1.7 and allow critical time to increase vaccination coverage.”
It is not clear whether the winter tide in the United States is at its peak, but the numbers are staggering, with an average of more than 200,000 new infections confirmed each day.
This is not the first warning from the CDC about variants of the virus, but it is the first to offer a plausible timeline for when and to what extent recent mutations could complicate efforts to end the pandemic.
This shows that rapid vaccination is crucial to crushing the viral infection curve. Without vaccines, in a CDC scenario, the country could deal with even higher levels of infection in May than in January.
But if public health agencies can increase up to 1 million vaccinations a day, the CDC model predicts that new infections will decline on a daily basis over the next few months – even with the added boost of the highly contagious option in the UK. It has been identified in 12 states, the CDC said on Friday, and the agency has informed officials across the country that they must accept that the option is present in their state.
The CDC and unrelated scientists said they saw no evidence that this particular option was the cause of the winter wave in the cases. So far, it has been involved in less than 0.5 percent of infections nationwide, tests show.
The CDC’s sobering forecast on Friday is based on simple models and has limitations, the agency acknowledged.
The model considers only option B.1.1.7 and does not take into account the impact of other options already discovered or not yet identified. The options in South Africa and Brazil may be even more problematic, although they have not been seen in the United States so far. Researchers note a catastrophic jump in cases in Manaus, Brazil, in recent weeks, despite the large percentage of the population believed to have been pre-infected – a situation that raises suspicions unconfirmed by data that some people who have recovered , become re-infected by the new strain.
The CDC model treats the country as a single unit, although the virus is spreading at different rates locally and regionally. No one knows, even nationally, the current “R”, the reproductive number of the common coronavirus. This is the average number of people an infected person will infect.
The CDC model uses plausible playback speeds of 1.1 (faster spread at the moment) and 0.9 (slower). The CDC then used British data to predict that the UK version was 50 per cent more transmitted than the overall version. The model suggests that between 10 and 30 percent of the population is already infected and has recovered and already has immunity.
“It would be foolish to say that this will never end and we can also stop trying,” Butler told the CDC on Friday. “But there is reason to worry. We have not yet emerged from the forest of this pandemic. We must keep moving forward. “