One person in Pennsylvania has the more contagious British variant of “super-Covid,” health officials there confirmed Thursday.
A total of 38 U.S. cases have been identified, including one each in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, and New York, two in Colorado, and 32 in California, where there is a cluster in San Diego.
At least seven states have cases of the B117 variant, a CDC official told DailyMail.com this week, but Pennsylvania is only the sixth to announce the arrival of the new variant.
The Pennsylvania case is a person in Dauphin County who tested positive for the new variant after “known international exposure”, said Dr. Rachel Levine, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Secretary of Health on Thursday.
It comes as the US sees its deadliest day in existence, with nearly 4,000 deaths on Wednesday.
Still, federal agencies have done little to monitor and contain outbreaks of the new variant. This has spurred a surge in infections in the UK and placed the nation under the strictest lockdowns yet.
Pennsylvania is the sixth state to confirm a case of “super-Covid,” bringing the US total to 38 cases of the more infectious British tribe
Pennsylvania Health Commissioner Dr. Rachel Levine said the state was preparing for the arrival of the British variant by screening up to 35 samples a week for it
‘Pennsylvania has been preparing for this variant in close collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been sending 10-35 random samples to the CDC every two weeks since November to investigate the sequencing and possible cases for this new COVID- to recognize. 19 variant, “said Dr. Levine.
“Public health experts are at an early stage to better understand this new variant, how it spreads and how it affects people who are infected with it.
There is still a lot to learn about this new variant so we must remain vigilant and continue to urge Pennsylvanians to stop the spread by washing their hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings, downloading COVID Alert PA and answering the call. Keep calm, stay alert and stay safe. ‘
The slim silver lining in the Pennsylvania case is that it was a traveler who knows where he got infected with the infection.
This person’s contacts are much easier to track.
In many states, including Colorado (with the first cases) and California, the first cases had occurred in people with no recent travel history, which means the British variant was already quietly spreading there.
When the UK announced that the more contagious variant – known as B117 – had appeared there, US health officials assumed it was already in the US.
Economic ties between the UK and the US are strong and flights between the two countries continued during the pandemic.
In addition to regular testing for local residents (pictured), the Philadelphia chief of health asked anyone who recently traveled to the UK to come for COVID-19 tests so the city can sequence the genomes of anyone who test positive to determine whether this is the case the new variant (file)
As in most of the United States, Pennsylvania has seen an increase after the holidays. More than 8,500 were added on Wednesday. If the British variant of the coronavirus is already spreading there, it could be set to cause cases to skyrocket
16 flights from London Heathrow Airport arrived at JFK International Airport in New York City one day before new restrictions were introduced that saw airlines reduce their number of flights between cities.
In the US, travelers from the UK are only allowed to enter if they have an exception and have a negative COVID-19 test.
Some experts have complained that this is not enough, calling for a total ban on travelers from the UK, where the B117 variant dominates.
As in much of the country, new infections have reappeared in Pennsylvania after the holidays.
Yesterday the state reported more than 8,500 new cases. Nearly 700,000 confirmed or suspected cases have been reported in Pennsylvania and 17,179 people have died.
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, was concerned there might be people going to the UK and returning before the testing restriction in Pennsylvania, and said on Wednesday that local laboratories would start testing the youngest travelers for COVID-19.
“In the UK, cases are growing explosively across the country and the models suggest B117 is the reason,” Farley said.
“I think it will be identified at some point.”
Sure enough, a day later a case was found. It is unclear whether it was a result of the Philadelphia Testing Program. Dauphin County is approximately 100 miles from Philadelphia.
Farley’s request to have Philadelphia Labs test people with travel history was strategic.
The effort included laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, and the CDC capable of performing the complex process required to determine if someone had a particular variant of the coronavirus.
Farley admitted that the process – sequencing the virus genome in mucus samples to see if they have mutations that characterize the new variant – is tedious and challenging to closely monitor – but a Philadelphia intends to rise.
“They’re getting samples from people who have already been tested in town to do this sequencing,” he said of the sophisticated labs.
“It’s not something that can be done in very large quantities, so it will be a small number of people. That is why I called people who recently traveled to the UK so that we could find them sooner. It’s going to be difficult for us to do enough tests to get a feel for it. Much of this variation could be out here, and it’s a national problem not just for Philadelphia. ‘
CDC SAYS DETECTING THE MORE INFECTIOUS VARIANTS IS NOT “URGENT”, although it does trigger LOCKDOWNS in the UK
However, at the national level, this issue is not viewed as “urgent,” a CDC official told DailyMail.com.
The CDC is increasing the number of samples it is sequencing in search of the new variant from 3,500 to around 6,000 per week.
However, sequencing is done in large batches, which can be more time consuming. New York state health officials said states have waited up to two weeks to get back the results of the samples they submitted to the agency.
‘For less urgent sequencing, stacking the data is much more efficient when there is no urgent need to flip the data quickly [for the purpose of] Big surveillance data, ”said Dr. Dr. Greg Armstrong, director of the CDC’s advanced molecular detection office, told DailyMail.com when asked why it is taking up to two weeks for the CDC to determine if samples contain the new variant.
‘We assumed it was already here in the US as the economic ties between here and the UK are strong. So we thought we could find it relatively quickly. We are now aware of this in seven different states and expect to find it in many different places. ‘
At the time he told DailyMail.com that the variant was in seven states, only five had announced the presence of B117. Pennsylvania is the sixth country, leaving a state that has confirmed a case to the CDC but not the public.
Dr. Armstrong refused to reveal the identity of the remaining states during an interview.
He said the CDC expects the variant to be in even more states in the coming weeks, but that doesn’t change anything.
‘There is no clinical impact for these patients, and a variant with this low presence will not affect which non-pharmacological interventions [that we employ],’ he said.
“The CDC’s stance is” wrong and dangerous, “Peter Pitts, co-founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, told DailyMail.com.
“It’s very alarming,” he said.
“The reality is that new COVID-19 strains need to be high on the epidemiological priority list.”
The new B117 variant has again blocked the UK and has become dominant in much of the country where it was first announced a little more than three weeks ago.
If it gains a foothold in the US, it could be disastrous. Vaccine adoption is slow, hospitals in many states and cities are already overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, and the US has just set another record for deaths in a single day. Almost 4,000 deaths were reported on Wednesday.