Feb 7, 2021 - Health

Study: U.K. coronavirus variant is doubling in U.S. every 10 days

A man is pushed in a wheelchair in front of a sign that reads "Covid-19 vaccination hub"
A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Cal Poly on Feb. 5 in Pomona, CA. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. is doubling in the U.S. nearly every 10 days, according to a new study released on Sunday.

Why it matters: The preprint study from MedRxiv, which has not been peer-reviewed, comes after the CDC and top infectious disease experts have warned that the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the dominant U.S. strain.

Details: The MedRxiv preprint study found that the U.K. variant is 35-46% more transmissible in the U.S., which is in line with other estimates, including a Public Health England study that found B.1.1.7 is 30% to 50% more transmissible than other forms of the virus.

  • The CDC contracted with genomics company Helix in order to complete the preprint study.

What they're saying: “There could indeed be a very serious situation developing in a matter of months or weeks,” Nicholas Davies, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the New York Times. He was not involved in the study.

  • “These may be early signals warranting urgent investigation by public health authorities," he said.
  • Davies "cautioned that U.S. data is patchier than that in Britain and other countries," per the Times. “If these data are representative, there may be limited time to act."
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