Florida and California are now the country’s super Covid hotspots with 147 and 113 cases of the British variant, respectively.
The 70 percent more infectious variant has been reported in at least 32 states, and according to DailyMail.com analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state data, there are at least 482 cases in the US.
CDC scientists believe the British variant, formerly known as B117, could become the dominant form in America by March, potentially leading to a further surge in COVID-19 cases.
So far, it hasn’t outperformed other wild-type variants in the US, but it has certainly gained a foothold in the two coastal states.
It’s too early to say why exactly Florida and California were hit so hard by the B117 variant, experts told DailyMail.com. However, both states remain warm, making it easier for people to get out of the restaurant and socializing, and continue to have high case rates – factors related to the rapid spread and viral development.
Scientists are increasingly concerned about the B117 variant. At first it just seemed more transmissible, not fatal, and most importantly, it didn’t seem to make vaccines any less effective.
That may change, however, after evidence emerged last week that the variant could be 30 percent more deadly than other forms.
And new research has shown that the British variant developed the same mutation in at least 11 cases in the UK that made the dreaded South African more resistant to COVID-19 vaccines.
California and Florida are the two US hotspots for the British variant with 113 and 147 cases respectively. British scientists have found 11 worrying cases of B117 with an additional mutation in the South African variant that could evade vaccines
The spike protein mutation known as E484K was discovered in the genomic sequences of virus samples taken from at least 11 people in the UK who had the B117 variant.
Dr. Julian Tang, a virologist at the University of Leicester, described this development as a “worrying development”.
B117 has several mutations that make it easier to attach to human cells than previous forms of the virus, including the N501Y mutation.
It shares the N501Y mutation with the South African and Brazilian variants.
This common mutation in three different variants, which appear to have occurred independently of one another on three different continents, was sufficient to arouse the suspicion of scientists that an “evolutionary convergence” is taking place.
Evolutionary convergence occurs when unrelated animal species or virus strains develop the same mutations or traits that are found to be beneficial.
California has worked hard to keep hospitals from overflowing when cases there increase. The state already has 113 cases of B117. If the more contagious variant dominates, the hospitals could easily run out of beds again, as they did last month