UK coronavirus variant seemingly circulated undetected in US for months, researchers say

The extra transmissible coronavirus variant first detected within the U.Okay. seemingly made its method to the U.S. months earlier than it was found, in line with a brand new evaluation by researchers. In reality, the B.1.1.7 variant was seemingly “silently spreading” in 15 different nations earlier than being recognized within the U.Okay. in December 2020.

“By the time we discovered concerning the U.Okay. variant in December, it was already silently spreading throughout the globe,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at The University of Texas at Austin, and professor of integrative biology, stated in a information launch posted to “We estimate that the B.1.1.7 variant most likely arrived within the U.S. by October of 2020, two months earlier than we knew it existed.”

The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium group, which printed an early-release model of its findings within the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, analyzed knowledge from 15 nations and estimated the possibility that vacationers from the U.Okay. unfold the variant to these areas between Sept. 22 and Dec, 7, 2020. The September date was chosen as, in line with the info, the B.1.1.7 variant was detected in samples initially collected in Kent on September 20 and London on September 21.


They primarily based the estimation on the “altering proportion of infections” pushed by the variant within the U.Okay. and inhabitants mobility from the U.Okay. to every of the 15 nations, which they pulled from Facebook Data for Good.

“By October 22 (a month after the variant was first detected within the United Kington), the possibility that 01 of the 15 nations would obtain 1 imported case from the United Kington was no less than 50%, aside from Romania, Portugal, Cyprus, India and the United States, though by November 1, this threat threshold was exceeded for all of those nations,” the researchers wrote.

The group primarily based their projections on journey from the U.Okay.

Using these projections, the group concluded that nations with substantial inhabitants motion from the U.Okay. had been prone to have undetected circumstances of the variant by late October 2020.

“This research highlights the significance of laboratory surveillance,” Meyers stated, within the information launch posted on “Rapid and intensive sequencing of virus samples is crucial for early detection and monitoring of recent variants of concern.”


The group additionally launched a brand new on-line calculator meant to find out the variety of virus samples that must be sequenced as a way to detect new variants once they first emerge.

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