Alarmingly enough, last week the US surpassed 300,000 cases in a single day. By the end of the week multiple new outlets published reports of an extremely contagious Covid variant specific to the United States. These reports have since been declared to be false, erroneous and inaccurate by the CDC and various government officials.
So where did these rumors come from in the first place?
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, speculated the presence of a highly transmissible variant. She suggested that this variant had possibly originated in the US, just like the UK variant, and was the reason why the spread had been escalating in recent weeks.
Soon enough, her statements, which were hypothetical in nature, made it into weekly updates sent to the state governors and began circulating.
CDC officials tried to have these false statements and reports removed but they had already picked momentum, and by Friday afternoon, appeared on CNN.
The CDC then answered all media inquiries by issuing a formal statement. The agency’s spokesman, Jason McDonald said,
“Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are monitoring all emerging variants of the coronavirus, including in 5,700 samples collected in November and December. To date, neither researchers nor analysts at C.D.C. have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States.”
Among the variants spreading in the country, is the highly contagious UK variant (scientifically known as B117) that originated in the UK and is now widespread there. In the US, however, this variant has only been identified in a few states and is responsible for less than 0.5% of the cases here.
Another variant here is called B1.346. This particular variant has been circulating the US at low levels, accounting for less than 0.5% of the cases and thus probably not as contagious as other variants.
It is normal for viruses to mutate as they develop and evolve, and coronavirus is no exception to this process.And as long as it spreads across populations it will continue to mutate and present variants.
Explaining the natural disposition of viruses and coronavirus in particular, Mr. McDonald of the CDC stated,
“Based on scientific understanding of viruses, it is highly likely there are many variants evolving simultaneously across the globe. However, it could take weeks or months to identify if there is a single variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom.”
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