Variant COVID-19 strain likely circulating in many states

Jan. 8, 2021

Texas, Pennsylvania and Connecticut became the latest states to confirm cases of B117, a variant strain of the novel coronavirus that began widely circulating in the United Kingdom at the end of last year, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

There are now at least 56 cases of B117 in eight states. California (26) and Florida (22) have reported the most. Single cases have also been found in New York, Florida, and Georgia, and Colorado officials have confirmed two cases. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will begin tracking and publicly reporting variant COVID-19 case counts in the United States and updating data on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

CDC officials told The Washington Post  they suspect the mutant variant is present in most states and will become more common in the coming weeks. The variant is thought to be 50 percent more contagious than the strain that originated in Wuhan, China, 1 year ago, but so far it does not seem to cause more severe illness or symptoms. 

B117 is thought to be more transmissible because patients have a higher viral load, meaning viral particles are shed more easily through coughs and sneezes. 

Visit CIDRAP for more news