The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the United States, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
“Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” Walensky said at the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing.
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Studies have suggested that the UK variant is more contagious than the original strain, is possibly more dangerous and associated with a higher risk of death.
There are currently 16,275 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the United States, according to the CDC.
The country’s daily rate of new cases rose over most of the last four weeks. Part of that is due to the spread of B.1.1.7 and other concerning variants, Walensky said this week.
Last month, evidence was mounting that the variant was possibly already dominant across the US. At the time, the CDC declined to say if the variant was dominant – but predicted it would be within a few weeks.