The White House Coronavirus Working Group warned in a report this week that the rapid increase in cases this winter could be the result of an internal variation of the virus, separate from the UK version.
“This jump in the fall / winter is almost twice the number of cases than the spring and summer jumps,” the working group wrote in its weekly report received by The Hill.
“This acceleration suggests that there may be a version of the United States that has evolved here, in addition to a version of the United Kingdom that is already spreading in our communities and may be 50% more transmitted,” the report said.
“Aggressive mitigation should be used to compare with a more aggressive virus; without the uniform application of effective facial masking (two- or three-layer and well-fitting) and strict social distancing, epidemics can quickly worsen as these variants spread and become prevalent, ”he continues.
The report does not say there is hard evidence of a new strain of the virus, but instead the cases are increasing so fast that it could indicate a more contagious strain in the United States. The United Kingdom is severely affected by a new, more contagious, strain that has been found there and has already been found in several US states.
“This is largely pattern recognition, where we put our curve at the top of the UK curve, and at the moment the trajectory of what follows here in the United States looks a lot like what followed in the UK,” he added.
So far, the strain of the virus is thought to be more contagious in the UK, but not more deadly. It is also not thought to be resistant to vaccines, although research is ongoing.
In the last few weeks, the United States has regularly set new records for daily infections and deaths from the virus as the country struggles to control the pandemic.
Johns Hopkins University said there were 4,085 coronavirus deaths in the United States on Thursday, the first time the country has surpassed 4,000 deaths in a single day.
The release of Pfizer and Moderna-approved vaccines has been overshadowed by confusion over distribution as employees try to prioritize who should take the photos first and how to administer them quickly, without letting the doses be lost.
To date, about 6 million of the approximately 21 million administered doses have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Trump administration is encouraging states to expand the categories of people who qualify for vaccine doses as a way to speed up the process and ensure that strict criteria do not delay it.
In its report this week, the working group called on states not to delay vaccination of people over the age of 65 or people at higher risk of serious complications from the virus.
“Communications should focus on proactive testing of individuals under the age of 40 to prevent asymptomatic silent spread among household members and on a call for immediate testing and rapid infusion of monoclonal antibodies for those at risk of serious illness. “, The report states. “Every hospital must have outpatient infusion sites available immediately to save lives.
Asked about Friday’s report, the CDC said there was a “high probability” that there would be options in the United States, but it would take time to determine if there was one option that fed the jump as in the UK, and no one had been identified so far. option.
“Based on the scientific understanding of viruses, it is very likely that there are many variants that are evolving simultaneously around the world,” a CDC spokesman said. “In addition, there is a high probability that there are options in the United States, but it could [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 Kingdom. “
“Researchers have observed strains in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, including 5,700 samples collected in November and December,” the spokesman added. “To date, neither CDC researchers nor analysts have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States, as seen with the emergence of B.1.1.7 in the United Kingdom or B.1.351 in South Africa.”