Information about the characteristics of the new COVID-19 variant that emerged in Europe is rapidly being released. Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they might spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them.
Below are where the cases found in these states thus far:
5. New York
8. Colorado – The first reported case of the U.K. variant in the U.S. was found in Colorado in late December. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported on Dec. 30 that the strain was identified in a man in his 20s who was isolated in Elbert County. This man had no prior travel history, leading Gov. Jared Polis to surmise that although the state was the first to identify the new strain in the country, it was unlikely that he was the first to contract it.
While many are extremely concerned about the new strain of the coronavirus, the fact of the matter is, a virus mutating is nothing new. Viruses, like most living-beings, adapt and mutate to survive. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces. Scientists monitor changes in the virus, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. These studies, including genetic analyses of the virus, are helping us understand how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and what happens to people who are infected with it.
Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating globally.
In the United Kingdom (UK), a new variant has emerged with an unusually large number of mutations. This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
This variant was first detected in September 2020 and is now highly prevalent in London and southeast England. It has since been detected in numerous countries around the world, including the United States and Canada.
In South Africa, another variant has emerged independently of the variant detected in the UK. This variant, originally detected in early October, shares some mutations with the variant detected in the UK. There have been cases caused by this variant outside of South Africa.
This variant seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.