A variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom late last year has now become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States. The B.1.1.7 variant, which is believed to be more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain, has been identified in a growing number of cases across the country.
"Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a White House COVID-19 Response Team press briefing.
Andy Slavitt, White House senior advisor on COVID-19 response, stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent the variant from spreading or mutating further. The currently approved vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson all appear to provide protection against the UK variant. He said that the Biden administration is monitoring the situation and working to distribute vaccines to areas where they are needed most.
"We are getting the amount of vaccines we think are needed for the population because that's fundamental, and then we are working on very tactical areas on how to both maximize that vaccine distribution, so we get the things we want, efficiency, health equity and the other goals that we have," he said.
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