The first case of the deadly mutant strain of Covid-19 originally found in Britain has arrived in the United States. The Super Covid-19 strain's arrival in the States was confirmed on Tuesday by Colorado authorities. The new strain is more transmissible than other strains of the virus.
The man, who is in his 20s, has no travel history, the authorities said. Currently he is in isolation in Elbert County. "We will closely monitor this case ... as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely," Colorado Governor Jared Polis said. The authorities are also trying to trace the man's potential contacts.
Public health officials have confirmed that the new strain of the virus is up to 70 percent more infectious than the other strains. The new strain is spreading rapidly in the UK. However, according to the US CDC, there is no evidence at this time that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.
"Today we discovered Colorado's first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely," the governor said.
The development has alarmed public health officials, as it is certain that the Colorado man contracted the virus from someone in the US. Millions of people traveled across the country in the last few days for Christmas celebrations, and millions more are set to hit the road to celebrate the New Year.
The new variant of the coronavirus, known as the B.1.1.7 lineage, was first detected in November in England. Early evidence shows that the strain causes more serious illness in children. Several countries have enforced travel bans on England following the detection of the new variant of the virus.
Earlier on Tuesday, US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said the new strain might have already arrived in the US. "I cannot imagine that we're not going to get it ... The question is preventing it from becoming the dominant strain," he said.
Apart from the UK and the US, other countries like France, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Iceland, Singapore, Australia and Japan have also reported the new strain.
Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, warned that the US will likely see "homegrown variants" of the virus similar to the UK variant. He said that additional strains of the virus could be identified in the country if more virus genomic surveillance is conducted.
"The surges and the impact on our ICUs across the country is absolutely devastating. ... This is the nightmare scenario we worked so hard to prevent," he told CNN.