Colorado Man Has First Known US Case of “UK Variant” Coronavirus
The “UK Variant” of covid that is reportedly more infectious has been reported in Colorado, and officials are saying that means it’s already here. The good news is, the existing vaccines should cover it.
Colorado officials on Tuesday reported the first known case in the United States of a person infected with the coronavirus variant that has been circulating rapidly across much of the United Kingdom and has led to a lockdown of much of southern England.
Scientists have said the variant is more transmissible but does not make people sicker.
The Colorado case involves a man in his 20s, who is in isolation in Elbert County, about 50 miles southeast of Denver, and has no travel history, according to a tweet from the office of Gov. Jared Polis (D).
“The individual has no close contacts identified so far, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contacts through thorough contact tracing interviews,” the statement said.
A federal scientist familiar with the investigation said the man’s lack of known travel — in contrast with most confirmed cases outside the United Kingdom — indicates this is probably not an isolated case. “We can expect that it will be detected elsewhere,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the broader context of the announcement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed as much in a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying additional cases with the new variant will be detected in the United States in coming days. The variant’s apparent increase in contagiousness “could lead to more cases and place greater demand on already strained health care resources,” the agency said in a statement.
Researchers have detected the more transmissible variant in at least 17 countries outside the United Kingdom, including as far away as Australia and South Korea, as of Tuesday afternoon. Officials in Canada had previously said they had identified two cases.
Although the U.K. variant appears more contagious, it is not leading to higher rates of hospitalizations or deaths, according to a report from Public Health England, a government agency. Nor is there any sign that people who were infected months ago with the coronavirus are more likely to be reinfected if exposed to the variant, according to the report. All available evidence indicates that vaccines, and immunity built up in the population, should be protective against this variant.