If the U.S. Already Had a Covid Variant, We Wouldn’t Know

The new U.K. variant making headlines this week was caught with gene sequencing—something the U.S. hasn’t invested in.

Image: Emma Hodcroft and Richard Neher/Nextstrain

News of specific, potentially more contagious coronavirus variants in the United Kingdom and South Africa have swept global headlines in recent days. The two unrelated variants, health officials say, have spread in the past few weeks, supplanting other variations of the virus and leading officials to believe they are more transmissible. International focus has quickly shifted to containment: Dozens of countries have now issued travel bans for the U.K. The variant has not yet been detected in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday, in a public statement, but only about 51,000 of 17 million cases have been sequenced so far. “Given the small fraction of U.S. infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected,” the CDC said. Few headlines, though, have focused on the bigger problem: If the U.S. already had its own variants, we wouldn’t know. Read more at The New Republic.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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