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Emergence and Rapid Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 in the United States

Cell. 2021 Mar 30;S0092-8674(21)00383-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.052.

Washington NL, Gangavarapu K, Zeller M, Bolze A, Cirulli ET, Schiabor Barrett KM, Larsen BB, Anderson C, White S, Cassens T, Jacobs S, Levan G, Nguyen J, Ramirez JM 3rd, Rivera-Garcia C, Sandoval E, Wang X, Wong D, Spencer E, Robles-Sikisaka R, Kurzban E, Hughes LD, Deng X, Wang C, Servellita V, Valentine H, De Hoff P, Seaver P, Sathe S, Gietzen K, Sickler B, Antico J, Hoon K, Liu J, Harding A, Bakhtar O, Basler T, Austin B, MacCannell D, Isaksson M, Febbo PG, Becker D, Laurent M, McDonald E, Yeo GW, Knight R, Laurent LC, de Feo E, Worobey M, Chiu CY, Suchard MA, Lu JT, Lee W, Andersen KG.

The highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in the United Kingdom, has gained a foothold across the world. Using S gene target failure (SGTF) and SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequencing, we investigated the prevalence and dynamics of this variant in the United States (US), tracking it back to its early emergence. We found that, while the fraction of B.1.1.7 varied by state, the variant increased at a logistic rate with a roughly weekly doubling rate and an increased transmission of 40%-50%. We revealed several independent introductions of B.1.1.7 into the US as early as late November 2020, with community transmission spreading it to most states within months. We show that the US is on a similar trajectory as other countries where B.1.1.7 became dominant, requiring immediate and decisive action to minimize COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.

Media Coverage
CNN – Experts predicted the U.K. variant would become dominant in the U.S. by March. So, is it?
New York Times – Virus variant first found in Britain now spreading rapidly in U.S.
Washington Post – U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds
Science – U.S. rushes to fill void in viral sequencing as worrisome coronavirus variants spread
BBC News – UK coronavirus variant spreading ‘rapidly’ through US, study finds
ABC10 News – UK COVID-19 variant may become dominant strain in US by mid-March

Press Releases
Scripps Research – B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 virus spreading rapidly in United States