CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky predicted yesterday that a new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom may be the "dominant strain" here by the end of March. Via CBS News:
In an interview with "Face the Nation," Walensky said there are more than 1,000 cases of the U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7, in 39 states. "We know now that, or we estimate now that about 4% of disease in this country is related to B.1.1.7," she said. "And we have projections that it may be the dominant strain by the end of March."
Public health officials warn the U.K. variant is more transmissible and argue the new strain, as well another identified in South Africa and a third from Brazil, underscores the need for the American people to get quickly vaccinated. Walensky said pharmaceutical companies are adjusting their science to neutralize the B.1.1.7 variant, and the CDC is watching the epidemiology with people who have already received their coronavirus vaccines.
"But we're not waiting for that," she said. "We're doing the science to scale up different vaccines in case we either need bivalent vaccines, that is a vaccine that has two different strains, or booster vaccines. Both are happening." While Walensky predicted the U.K. strain could be dominant by the end of next month, she said that should not deter efforts to reopen schools, which is a priority of the Biden administration.