The spread of COVID-19 across the U.S. has slowed. Confirmed cases, which were rising at the rate of over 200,000 a day less than two months ago, currently rise at less than 100,000. Nevertheless, the U.S. has 28,761,741 confirmed cases, about 25% of the world’s total. Deaths, which were rising by over 4,000 a day two months ago, have dropped to a daily increase of closer to 2,000. At 515,138, they are about 20% of the world’s total.
Among the major concerns of epidemiologists and public health officials are variants. Three have shown up on CDC tracking systems and the agency reports on their spread daily. The most talked-about are from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil. The U.K. variant spreads faster than the one which has plagued the U.S. for over a year. Another worry is that current vaccines may not be as effective against these strains as the currently dominant one in America. And, the U.K version spreads quickly enough that it may become the dominant one in America by the end of March.
The major hope to keep COVID-19 case growth down are vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
Recently, a new variant emerged in California. There is much worry that it is extremely deadly. The Daily Mail reports:
The coronavirus variant, known as B.1.427/B.1.429 – also sometimes called CAL.20C/L452R – first emerged in California in May 2020.
Experts predict that the variant, which spreads as easily as those from the UK and South Africa, will make up 90% of state cases by March
The variant has also been discovered in several other states, which include Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.
The Los Angeles Times quotes a scientist who has followed the new variants:
Californians, along with the rest of the country, have been bracing for an onslaught of the more transmissible strain from the U.K. known as B.1.1.7. But they should know that a rival strain that is probably just as worrisome has already settled in, and will probably account for 90% of the state’s infections by the end of next month, said Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious diseases researcher and physician at UCSF.
“The devil is already here,” said Chiu, who led a team of geneticists, epidemiologists, statisticians and other scientists in a wide-ranging analysis of the new variant, which they call B.1.427/B.1.429. “I wish it were different. But the science is the science.”
The “US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants” page shows that there are 2,102 B.1.1.7 cases in 45 states, 49 cases of B.1.351 in 15 states, and six cases of P.1 in 5 states. The agency does not show data for CAL.20C/L452R yet.
The journal Science sums up the worry about the new variant:
A new strain of the pandemic coronavirus, first identified and now spreading in California, appears to be somewhat more transmissible and heighten patients’ risk of admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) and death, according to a preprint reporting lab studies and epidemiological data.
This gives some confirmation to the widening worry that variants could cause a new surge.