Health Desk – 21 Mar,2021: LEADING INFECTIOUS disease expert Anthony Fauci on Friday warned that the COVID-19 variant first documented in the U.K. is a “growing threat” in the U.S.
The U.S. documented its first case of the variant in late December. Since then, “it has been detected in 50 jurisdictions in the United States and likely accounts now for about 20 to 30% of the infections in this country,” Fauci said at a press briefing. “And that number is growing.”
He said the variant results in a 50% increase in transmission over the original strain. It also likely causes more severe COVID-19 disease. He pointed to coronavirus surges in Europe as a warning sign of what could come in the U.S. if the variant continues to spread.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky earlier this week said that she still predicts that the variant will become the dominant strain in the U.S. later this month or in early April.
But vaccines and mitigation strategies are effective tools to fight the variants.
“The way we can counter 1.1.7, which is a growing threat in our country, is to do two things: to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible with the vaccine that we know works against this variant and, finally, to implement the public health measures that we talk about all the time … masking, physical distancing and avoiding congregant settings, particularly indoors,” Fauci said, referring to the variant by its scientific name.
The Biden administration on Friday announced that 100 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in President Joe Biden’s first 58 days in office.
Fauci said that because the U.S. is not struggling with a shortage of vaccines, he does not believe the administration will consider changing the vaccine dosage for those who have previously been infected with COVID-19. Some studies have shown that one dose could be enough to provide protection to those who previously had the coronavirus.