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The U.K. strain, called B.1.1.7, was first reported in the U.S. in late December, and it spreads more quickly and easily than other variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease physician said on TODAY Thursday that it could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of March. As of Feb. 23, there were 1,881 reported cases of this variant in 45 U.S. states.
South African Variant:
This variant, known as B.1.351, emerged independently from the U.K. strain but shares some of its mutations, according to the CDC. Data indicates that it first emerged in South Africa in October and has since spread to other countries, including the U.S. In late January, the CDC confirmed two cases in South Carolina, and CDC director Rochelle Walensky told TODAY at the time that it had already reached the point of community spread. This variant could also make reinfection more likely; a vaccine study in South Africa found 2% of people who’d already had a version of the coronavirus had been reinfected with a variant. So far, it’s been detected in 14 states, and according to Lopman, it does seem to spread more easily.