The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday that at least 52 cases of the new COVID-19 strain have been discovered in the United States.
California had at least 26 cases of the variant discovered last month in the UK.
Florida (22 cases), Colorado (two), Georgia (one) and New York (one) were other states in which the new strain had been found, according to CNN.
Although the new variant appears to be more contagious than the new coronavirus, there is no evidence that it is more deadly. There is also no evidence that the strain can escape the effects of vaccines or treatments.
The CDC said the numbers only indicated infections found by testing positive samples and did not represent the total number of cases circulating in the country. Also, the agency’s statistics may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.
There could be many more cases of the variant in the United States, according to experts, who criticized the country for not doing more genetic sequencing of virus samples to watch for mutations.
A CDC official told CNN that the agency plans to more than double the number of samples it sequences over the next two weeks, targeting 6,500 per week.
“It is important that we are monitoring the virus and that we can detect these trends that have implications for public health and clinical medicine,” Dr. Gregory Armstrong, director of the CDC’s Office of Advanced Molecular Detection, told CNN on Sunday.
According to the GISAID genomic database, on December 19 in Florida, the first known US sample of the new variant was found. However, collection dates are not available for all samples.
Since coronaviruses are constantly mutating, doctors and scientists are concerned that the virus may acquire changes that make it less vulnerable to vaccines or treatments.
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