CDC Believes U.K COVID Variant Will Become Dominant U.S. Strain by March

The new U.K. COVID-19 variant is expected to become the dominant strain of the novel virus in the U.S. by March, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The faster-spreading variant of the novel virus, strain B.1.1.7, was first identified in the U.K. and has been detected in over 30 countries, including the U.S., according to the CDC.

"As of January 13, 2021, approximately 76 cases of B.1.1.7 have been detected in 10 U.S. states. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that B.1.1.7 is more efficiently transmitted than are other SARS-CoV-2 variants," the CDC report said. "The modeled trajectory of this variant in the U.S. exhibits rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant variant in March."

The report's researchers also warned that as the B.1.1.7 variant continues to spread across the country, it could pose more strain on hospitals, "require extended and more rigorous implementation of public health strategies" and even increase the population's immunity percentage needed to control the pandemic.

"Early efforts that can limit the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, such as universal and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, will allow more time for ongoing vaccination to achieve higher population-level immunity," the report said.

In addition to the B.1.1.7 variant, the CDC report stated that other notable variants were also detected in several other countries, such as the "B.1.351 lineage first detected in South Africa" and the B.1.1.28 subclade, renamed "P.1" which was found in four travelers during routine screening at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo after traveling from Brazil.

The report from the CDC comes as the novel virus continues to infect people across the country. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 23 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as well as at least 390,809 deaths.

Coronavirus in U.S.
Registered nurses help transfer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from a bottle into a syringe ready for vaccination at the Corona High School gymnasium in the Riverside County city of Corona, California on January 15, 2021, a day after California began offering the coronavirus vaccine to residents 65 and older. Frederic J. Brown/Getty

The global death toll from the virus also surpassed two million on Friday, which is roughly the same number of deaths that would occur if "10 of the world's largest commercial jets fell out of the sky, every day for an entire year," according to CNN.
Despite the report from the CDC, many health care professionals expect the existing vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, to protect the body against the B.1.1.7 strain.

During an interview with the medical journal, JAMA, earlier this week, acting chair of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, Arnold Monto said, "The variants do have changes in the spike protein, but not enough to make the vaccine not protective."

"It looks like [existing vaccines] should work, and we'll know more definitively in the next couple of weeks," Monto said.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.