Jan 4, 2021 - Health

More contagious COVID-19 variant found in 3 U.S. states

A person being tested for covid.
Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Part of the reason experts are so willing to shake up the vaccine process is a new, more contagious strain of the virus that's spreading around the world.

Why it matters: There's no evidence so far that the mutation makes people any sicker. But if it's more contagious, that means more people getting sick, a certain portion of which will require care from the already-strained health care system.

  • That increased burden in itself could become more deadly, as patients receive a reduced quality of care.

State of play: So far, the mutation has been found in three states — California, Colorado and Florida. But some experts say it's only a matter of time before it becomes the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S., as it now is in the U.K.

  • "Epidemiological models and Britain's experience indicate that, while only a few cases of the variant have been identified in the United States, it will likely become our dominant strain within a few months," Wachter and Jha write in the Post.
  • "A more infectious virus means more cases, which means more hospitalizations and deaths. We need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible to save the most lives," they add.
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