A new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in the UK, is likely to trigger a surge in cases in the spring, several experts predicted on Tuesday.
The variant, named B.1.1.7, was suspected of causing re-spread in the UK. It has been seen across much of the United States – the variant accounts for more than 1,880 cases in 45 states, according to estimates by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The variant “could lead to a bigger wave in April or May,” said Trevor Bedford of the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
How can the US prevent the suspected spring surge? Some experts said the best way to stay ahead of the rise is with vaccinations.
Bedford, who has been closely following the rise of new coronavirus variants, predicted vaccination and mitigation measures such as mask use and continued social distancing will help prevent the virus from spreading further.
“I still suspect things will be brought under control in the summer and there are very few viruses around,” he said.
It is possible, however, that a new surge may kick in this fall, according to Bedford.
The race for vaccination: More than 44.5 million people received at least one dose of their two-dose vaccines, according to the CDC on Tuesday. According to the CDC, approximately 19.8 million have been fully vaccinated with both doses – approximately 6% of the US population.
One dose of vaccine * might * be enough for some, the NIH director says: It is possible that a single dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine would be enough for those who are already infected with coronavirus – but more research will be needed to show this, wrote Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a blog post on Tuesday.
Read more about the situation in the USA: