Here's what you need to know about COVID-19 variants in the US, globally — Jan. 20

Here are 12 recent updates about the different coronavirus variants: 


1. There are currently 122 U.S. cases of the fast-spreading coronavirus variant initially identified in the U.K., according to the CDC. The variant has been found in these 20 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

2. The U.K. variant will become the dominant strain in the U.S. within two months, the CDC predicted Jan. 15. Modeling data indicate that the strain known as B.1.1.7, which researchers believe is about 50 percent more transmissible than the common strain, will account for a majority of cases in the U.S. by March.  

3. A newly identified variant may be driving a COVID-19 surge in California. Public health officials said a new variant, known as L452R, is increasingly being identified in multiple counties across California. 

4. Researchers in Ohio have discovered a new variant named COH.20G/501Y. The strain likely arose from an already present U.S. variant and carries a mutation identical to the U.K. strain. Researchers are unsure how prevalent the strain may be. 

5. Illinois researchers believe a newly identified U.S. variant accounts for half of all U.S. COVID-19 cases. An Illinois lab traced the variant's earliest appearance back to Texas in May. Since then, the variant, referred to as 20C-US, has acquired two new mutations in the spike protein that demonstrates ongoing evolution.


6. Japan officials identified a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The strain appears to share some of the mutations identified in the U.K. and South Africa strains. Japan declared a state of emergency Jan. 7 for the Tokyo area after the city saw a record number of COVID-19 cases. 

7. Another variant known as 501.V2 emerged in South Africa. Initially detected in October, the variant shares some mutations with the U.K. strain and seems to spread more easily and quickly than others. 

8. Germany identified a new mutation in 35 COVID-19 patients. The variant is different from the ones found in the U.K. and South Africa, officials said. 

9. A COVID-19 variant emerged in Nigeria, but there's no evidence to indicate the variant is causing more severe illness or increased spread at this time.

Vaccines & treatments: 

10. The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech will likely protect recipients against the U.K. variant, according to a study published Jan. 19 in bioRxiv. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.

11. The FDA sent out an alert Jan. 8 stating that new strains may cause false negative results in molecular COVID-19 tests. The agency said false negatives can occur in any molecular COVID-19 test if a mutation occurs in the part of the coronavirus's genome that is used by the test to detect infection. Tests that use multiple regions of the virus's genome may be less affected than tests that use just a single region. 

12. Eli Lilly's antibody drug is likely effective against the U.K. virus strain, but not necessarily the South African variant, Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks told CNBC.

More articles on public health:
Biden to issue mask mandate today; new US variant may be driving California's surge — 6 COVID-19 updates
Pandemic is out of control, most Americans say: 4 survey findings
California COVID-19 deaths cause air quality agency to lift limit on cremations


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