The UK variant of the coronavirus is said to be spreading rapidly in the U.S.
A new study made public on Sunday supports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) prediction that the more contagious strain could become predominant in the U.S. by late March.
“It is here, it’s got its hooks deep into this country, and it’s on its way to very quickly becoming the dominant lineage,” said study co-author Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, in an interview with The Washington Post.
Health authorities fear that the U.K. strain will potentially drive the number of cases up and result in more deaths.
The study looked at half a million coronavirus tests and hundreds of genomes to document the spread of the U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7.
Researchers say this variant is roughly 30% to 40% more contagious than common variants.
Moreover, cases from this variant are said to be doubling every 9.8 days, with the timeline even shorter in Florida where its prevalence doubles every 9.1 days.
According to Forbes, the CDC noted that Florida currently has the most cases involving the U.K. variant, with 187 infections as of Thursday. The study estimates that the variant is responsible for more than 4% of coronavirus cases in Florida.
Researchers are urging the U.S. to ramp up its vaccine rollout to counter the spread of the variant.
James Lu, one of the study’s co-authors, stressed, “We should vaccinate as fast as we can.”