Variants Could Cause A Rapid Rise In Covid-19 Cases In The U.S. Unless We Implement These Public Health Measures

In a prior column for Forbes, I detailed how the rapid spread of variants across Europe should serve as a warning for the US. I explained how data from the UK, Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland collectively demonstrate that the UK B.1.1.7 variant predictably overtakes previously dominating strains progressing from 20% to 80% of the circulating viruses in just 4 weeks.

The CDC has now issued a similar warning in the form of two new reports, suggesting that variants could cause a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in the US, based on international and local examples. In one report, the CDC has used the international example of the country of Zambia in East Africa as a warning. After 3 months of relatively low case counts, Covid-19 cases began rapidly rising throughout Zambia in mid-December 2020. Among the 23 positive Covid-19 specimens collected during December 16–23, 2020 by the University of Zambia and PATH, 22 (96%) were classified as the B.1.351 variant demonstrating a clear link to increased transmissibility by the B.1.351 variant. The below chart (Figure 2) tracks the evolution of Covid-19 cases in Zambia throughout the pandemic.

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Originally published on Forbes (February 19, 2021) 

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.