Jared Polis, the GOVERNOR of Colorado, tweeted that the more contagious variant of COVID-19 that emerged in the UK last week has been found in patients in Colorado, meaning it will be the first confirmed case of the British variant in the US. The patient is being quarantined and authorities are closely monitoring the situation and looking for other possible cases through contact tracing, Polis said.
“We have the first case of a novel variant coronavirUSb.1.1.7 discovered in The UK,” Polis wrote on Twitter in the early hours of today (December 30) Hong Kong time. The health and safety of the people of Colorado is our top priority, and we will be very closely monitoring the situation and other new confirmed cases. The patient, a male in his 20s, is being quarantined in Elbert County and has no history of travel. So far, no close contacts have been identified for the patient, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases through thorough contact tracing interviews. “We are working to prevent the virus from spreading and novel Coronavirus at every level.”
In the face of the mutated virus in the United States, Polis urged Americans to continue wearing masks, stay six meters away from gatherings with others, and interact only with immediate family members. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the announcement the same day, reiterating concerns about the mutated virus and correctly predicting it had arrived in the United States. “I can’t imagine that we won’t get there,” he said. “The problem now is to prevent it from becoming the dominant strain.”
The Colorado laboratory confirmed the case and notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The variant of the novel coronavirus found in the UK is 70 per cent more infectious, but the US does not believe it will cause more severe cases and has not reported higher death rates. There is no evidence that this variant of the virus causes more severe disease or risk, the CDC website says. According to the latest world real-time statistics from Worldometers, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has exceeded 1,996 million, reaching 19,960,508. There have been more than 346,000 deaths, to 346,521, and more than 3,300 deaths in a single day. The death toll in the United States in December was the highest since the outbreak began.
The CDC also explained that the VARIANT of the British variant had a mutation in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the labeled protein at 501, where the amino acid asparagine was replaced by tyrosine. The coronavirus mutates periodically, gaining about one new mutation in its genome every two weeks. Many mutations are described as silent because they do not change the structure of the protein that codes for them and produce a three-letter codon that translates into the same amino acid, and these mutations are said to be homogenous. Other mutations may alter the codon in a way that leads to amino acid changes, which are called heterozygous, but this amino acid substitution does not affect the function of the protein. The CDC also added that B.1.1.7 had 14 nonsynonymous mutations, six synonymous mutations and three deletions.
Novel Coronavirus is causing restrictions on airline flights in many countries around the world, which are undermining trade with Europe and threatening to further isolate the British economy. France, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Iceland, Singapore, Australia and Japan have all taken action. Japan banned all foreign nationals from entering the country at the beginning of this week and will continue until the end of January. Die Welt Daily further noted that the British variant appeared in Germany in November, a preliminary finding confirmed by Charite Hospital in Berlin.
A second strain of the virus, first identified in Africa, has been discovered in Britain in the face of a multinational blockade. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced at a press conference on December 23 that two cases had been observed in the UK and that both patients were being closely monitored. He added that people arriving in the UK from South Africa in the past two weeks would have to be quarantined immediately and travel between the UK and South Africa would be restricted while the mutated virus was investigated. Referring to the new carriers of the virus, Mr Hancock said: “Both were contacts of patients who had entered the country from South Africa in the past few weeks. We are very grateful to the South African government for their rigorous science and their openness and transparency, as they did when we discovered a new variant here, and they acted correctly.”