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