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The Coronavirus Task Force says the “US option” is unfounded, says CDC

  • The White House Coronavirus Task Force shared a report with states that a possible “US option” could be responsible for the coronavirus wave.
  • The report suggests that the US variant is more transmissible than the original virus, similar to the strains reported in Britain and South Africa.
  • But the CDC told Business Insider that there was no evidence of a “US option” and that it could take months to determine if a single strain was causing the jump in cases.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

The White House working group on coronavirus sent a report on Sunday warning that there could be a “US version”

; of the coronavirus. The option could feed an unprecedented number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States, the report said, according to media that received the document.

The report suggests that this version of the US may be more susceptible than the original version of the virus, which appeared in China, similar to the new strains identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351). ).

But there is still no scientific evidence that a more contagious version of the coronavirus originated or began to spread in the United States.

In a statement to Business Insider on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: “To date, neither CDC researchers nor analysts have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States, as seen with the advent of B. 1.1.7 in United Kingdom or B.1.351 in South Africa. “

Human behavior has a great influence on the speed of transmission

testing for coronavirus in Los Angeles

Long queue for medical examinations and tests for COVID-19 at the Center for Children and Families St. John’s Well in Los Angeles, California, on July 29, 2020.

Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

The working group’s report, according to CNBC, offers little information on how long the described new US strain may have circulated, or what mutations have been included in its genetic profile.

Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC Closing Bell that the working group’s hypothesis of a US option was based in part on the fact that the US and UK pandemic growth curves were similar.

According to CNN, the working group’s report said: “This jump in the fall / winter is almost twice as high as the spring and summer jumps. This acceleration suggests that there may be a US variant that has evolved here. to the UK option, which is already spreading in our communities. “

Given the lack of evidence provided by the working group, frustrated CDC staffers tried to remove statements about the alleged version from a recent report, but were unsuccessful, according to the New York Times.

Even in the UK, the option is not the only reason for the sharp rise in cases.

“Human behavior has a very large effect on transmission – probably far greater than any biological differences in SARS-CoV-2 variants,” Paul Bienias, a virologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, told Business Insider.

The variant reported in the United Kingdom has an increased reproductive or R0 value – the average number of people infected by a sick person. Their number is 1.5, not 1.1, the World Health Organization announced in December, meaning that 100 sick people will infect an average of another 150 instead of 110.

But mitigation measures such as social distancing and masking play a big role in the spread of the virus, regardless of genetic mutations.

Read more: Young, healthy people have invented a loophole to get the COVID vaccine without crossing the line

The United States does not arrange enough genomes to discover new variants

California beach pier coronavirus ocean masks for the crowd

Few people wear masks as they walk along the beach pier in Oceanside, California.

Mike Blake / Reuters

To observe the many versions of the coronavirus circulating around the world – each separated by a handful of small changes in its genome, the researchers genetically tracked samples of the virus and tracked changes over time. British researchers first identified B.1.1.7 in this way in mid-September.

But the United States is lagging behind many countries when it comes to monitoring new options. U.S. researchers have genetically sequenced less than .01% of coronavirus cases: 2.5 per 1,000. In all, the United States has sequenced only 51,000 coronavirus samples, the CDC reported. In the UK, laboratories rank 45 out of every 1,000 cases.

The UK variant of the coronavirus looks closely at 4x3

Samantha Lee / Business Insider

This is probably why the United States missed the introduction of the strain in the United Kingdom, and why it would be difficult to identify a new variant of the United States. The United States did not report its first case with B.1.1.7 until December 29. That was at least three weeks after the strain entered the country, according to Charles Chiu, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

So far, more than 50 cases of B.1.1.7 have been confirmed in six countries, and all but one of these people have no travel history, suggesting that the strain has been spreading silently for some time.

“It’s very likely to be in every state,” Chiu told Business Insider before.

covid scientist laboratory samples for coronavirus testing

Scientists work in a laboratory testing COVID-19 samples for the New York Health Department, April 23, 2020.

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Even if a possible new US option is indeed responsible for improving the situation, it may take months to establish a connection.

“There is a high probability that there are options in the United States; however, it may take weeks or months to determine if there is a variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, which feeds the wave in the United States, similar to the wave in the United States. The United Kingdom, “the CDC told Business Insider in a statement.

Dr. Peter Hottes, a vaccine scientist at Baylor Medical College in Texas, said in a tweet on Thursday that “there are probably similar home options in the United States, just no one is looking.”

“Like everything else in our national public health response, we have done little to deal with the genomic sequencing of the virus,” he added.

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