A new, more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK has been detected in 10 US states, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, warning that it could become the dominant variant circulating in the United Kingdom. United States. by March.
The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is believed to be twice as transmissible as the current version of the virus circulating in the United States, but so far there is no evidence that it causes more serious illness or is spread differently.
Its rapid spread will increase the burden on health resources at a time of increasing infections, further undermining strained health resources and increasing the need for better adherence to mitigation strategies, such as social distancing and wearing masks, the CDC said in its weekly Death and Illness report on Friday.
It also increases the percentage of the population that must be vaccinated to achieve protective herd immunity to control the pandemic, the CDC said.
The UK variant is currently found in 10 states, but has only been diagnosed in 76 of the 23 million US cases reported to date.
However, this version of the virus is likely to be more prevalent in the country than is currently reported, scientists at the CDC say.
Former FDA chief to lead vaccination campaign
US President-elect Joe Biden on Friday selected former chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) David Kessler for a leadership role in the new administration’s efforts to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, said the ‘Biden transition team. .
The news came as Biden’s team predicted that the United States would mark some 500,000 deaths from the pandemic by next month and that the president-elect was due to outline plans to step up vaccinations.
Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who led the FDA under Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton, will be the administration’s scientific director of the COVID-19 response.
The Biden administration plans to revamp the vaccine distribution effort that outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration called Operation Warp Speed, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Biden called the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout a “dismal failure.”
His own plan calls on Congress to spend $ 20 billion on vaccine distribution.
“We haven’t fully funded the response to COVID,” Biden’s new chief of staff Ron Klain said in an interview with the Washington Post on Friday.
“We’re going to see 500,000 deaths in this country next month,” Klain said.
Kessler served as co-chair of Biden’s pandemic advisory board. As head of the FDA, Kessler cut the time it takes to approve drugs to treat AIDS and tried to regulate the tobacco industry.
His appointment comes at a critical time in the government’s efforts to speed up the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines and treatments in a country particularly affected by the virus.
Biden has vowed to inject 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine into Americans during his first 100 days in office.
That pace is more than double the current rate, but would still leave most of the country without the blow by the end of April.
The Trump administration aimed to give vaccine doses to 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 – but only 11.1 million vaccines had been given as of Thursday, according to CDC data.
In an effort to expand vaccination efforts, the Trump administration said on Tuesday it was releasing millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it had withheld for the second injection.
This decision departed from an earlier strategy of storing enough doses to ensure the availability of the required second doses of vaccine.
The vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna, which were approved last month, require two doses.