The coronavirus variant first found in New York has spread to 14 other states, and the CDC has recorded more than 700 cases

  • Around 735 cases of the coronavirus variant first found in New York have been recorded in the US, a health official told Bloomberg.
  • Gregory Armstrong, a CDC director, said 585 cases had emerged in the past two weeks.
  • The variant had reached 15 states, he said. It’s not known if it’s more contagious than the original virus.
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The US has now recorded roughly 735 cases of the coronavirus variant that emerged in New York City in November, a federal health official told Bloomberg Monday.

This included 585 cases of the variant found in the last two weeks, Gregory Armstrong, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advanced Molecular Detection Program, said. 

Cases of the variant, named B.1.526, are now spread across 15 states, he said.

Two teams of researchers first discovered the variant in samples collected in New York City in November, The New York Times reported on February 24. The researchers’ studies have not yet been peer reviewed, but health experts told the Times that the results suggest the variant is on the rise.

It’s not known whether the strain, like other variants identified in the US and around the world, is more transmissible than the original virus, but Armstrong told Bloomberg that it’s “relatively limited geographically right now.”

Armstrong said the vast majority of cases have been recorded in New York and the New Jersey area, but that cases have also been recorded in Maryland, Texas, Wyoming, and other states.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday in a White House press briefing the variant likely originated in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Manhattan, before reaching other boroughs.

US officials need to “keep an eye” on the variant due to the possibility that it could evade the protection of vaccines and antibody treatments, Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical advisor, said.

“It’s something we take very, very seriously,” he said.

In addition to the variant first identified in New York, health officials are monitoring four other variants in the US, first found in the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and California.

CDC data from Sunday showed that in the US there were 2,400 cases of the variant first identified in the UK, 53 cases of the variant first found in South Africa, and 10 cases of P.1, the variant first discovered in Brazil.

GISAID reported on Tuesday 5,582 cases of the variant first identified in California. The variant could be more contagious and deadly compared to the original strain, studies show.

According to Armstrong, the CDC is concerned about the variant originating in New York, but not as much as by the other variants.

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