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Scary new COVID-19 strain from the UK has now been found in 3 US states

Coronavirus update
  • The first coronavirus update we have for 2021 is another reminder that the pandemic is continuing to worsen in the US.
  • More than 2,600 Americans are dying from COVID-19 each day, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Moreover, the more transmissible COVID strain from the UK is on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the US.

The first coronavirus update of the new year continues more of the bad news that dominated the month of December, showing that the pandemic is not only at its worst point yet but that things will also continue to worsen over the coming weeks, according to White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci on Sunday said that holiday travel post-Christmas will likely result in a larger number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths later this month, stemming largely from the fact that air travel in the US hit its highest level since March over the weekend. According to the TSA, more than 1.19 million people passed through security checkpoints in the nation’s airports — despite the fact that December was also the deadliest month of the pandemic so far in the US. The latest data from Johns Hopkins University along those lines shows that we’re averaging more than 2,600 deaths here every single day. And as if we needed another headache to deal with, it’s now become clear that the scary COVID-19 variant from the UK which is even more transmissible has now been found in at least three US states.

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So far, according to a new report from Axios, this new COVID strain has been found in California, Florida, and Colorado. Luckily, there’s no indication thus far that this new more contagious strain makes people get a more severe case of COVID-19 — at least, not at the individual level. At the population level, though, a more transmissible strain of the virus means you will collectively end up with more sick people, and the larger your pool of people is who’ve become sick with COVID-19, the greater the chance that more of those cases will tip over into being severe.

“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,” reads a Washington Post commentary from Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, and Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

“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.”

The presence of this new COVID strain in the US — as well as the fact that experts think it will soon become the dominant strain here — partly explains why Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui said health officials are considering a coronavirus vaccination protocol change for the Moderna drug. Essentially, the idea would be to halve the doses administered to patients to allow more doses to get to more people, speeding up the overall vaccination process.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who has been contributing to BGR since 2015. His expertise in TV shows you probably don’t like is unmatched. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl.