Reports Of New US COVID-19 Variant Are Inaccurate: CDC
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Reports about a new coronavirus variant originating in the U.S. are speculative and inaccurate, CDC officials told. The theory came from Deborah Birx, MD, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, during a recent meeting. She showed graphs of the increasing cases in the U.S. and suggested that a new variant that started in the U.S. could explain the surge.

The idea was also included in a Jan. 3 report sent to state governors: "This fall/winter surge has been at nearly twice the rate of rise of cases as the spring and summer surges. This acceleration suggests there may be a USA variant that has evolved here, in addition to the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities and maybe 50% more transmissible."

However, CDC officials say the hypothesis is not true. "Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are monitoring all emerging variants of the coronavirus, including in 5,700 samples collected in November and December. To date, neither researchers nor analysts at CDC have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States," Jason McDonald, a spokesperson for the CDC, said in the statement.

"Based on scientific understanding of viruses, it is highly likely there are many variants evolving simultaneously across the globe," McDonald said. "However, it could take weeks or months to identify if there is a single variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom."

"I'm quite optimistic that even with these mutations, immunity is not going to suddenly fail on us," said Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "It might be gradually eroded, but it's not going to fail on us, at least in the short term."