Polis Provides Update on First Case of Variant of COVID-19

Travelers wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease go through security before boarding a flight at the airport in Denver Colorado U.S

Despite early setbacks in the vaccine rollout, leading United States infectious disease specialist Dr Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that he expects Americans to achieve enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations by autumn 2021. "It's to be expected", Fauci said. That person was identified Wednesday as a Colorado National Guardsman who had been sent to help out at a nursing home struggling with an outbreak.

But a faster-spreading virus could swamp hospitals with seriously ill patients while the United States is now in the midst of a record-breaking surge of cases and deaths.

Fortunately, while it has higher rate of transmission, experts believe the new COVID variant is in any way produce more severe symptoms while those who were previously infected do not seem to get re-infected by the new strain.

"The virus is becoming more fit, and we're like a deer in the headlights", warned Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute.

In a statement to CBS News, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson Belsie González said, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is aware of Colorado's report of the first U.S. case associated with the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19".

The new variant has been detected in several European countries, as well as in Canada, Australia, India, South Korea and Japan, among others.

For the moment, the variant is likely still rare in the USA, but the lack of travel history in the first case means it is spreading, probably seeded by travelers from Britain in November or December, said scientist Trevor Bedford, who studies the spread of COVID-19 at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The popular governor said he would move "counties in Red on the dial to Orange" on January 4, 2021, thus allowing many businesses to reopen.

"We know that it's spreading easier and faster, but we don't see an increase in the severity of illness", Karen Percell, executive director of quality management at Advent Health, a health organization, told ABC News 25.

Fewer than half of 1% of all United States coronavirus cases have been sequenced, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

The discovery in Colorado has added urgency to the nation's vaccination drive against COVID-19, which has killed more than 340,000 people in the U.S.

When the state lab learned about this new variant, it set up a screen to capture samples where the two other genes were detected, but the S gene wasn't. Scientists are also confident that the COVID-19 vaccines that are rolling out now around the world will be just as effective against this variant.

The U.S. government on Monday began requiring all airline passengers arriving from Britain - including U.S. citizens - to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure. "They were one of the first contacts we made". Officials are now conducting more genetic testing to determine if the variant is present. Neither is a resident of that county - expanding the possibility that the variant has spread in the state. It has an unusually large number of genetic changes, or mutations, particularly in areas that affect the Spike protein, according to reports by Public Health England.

It's not unusual for a virus to undergo mutations as it reproduces within a population, according the AP.

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