The first known American case of a new, more contagious COVID-19 strain has been detected in Colorado, the Washington.
The infected individual is a male in his 20s with no travel history who is currently in isolation in Elbert County, Gov. Jared Polis tweeted. The new strain, which apparently originated out of the United Kingdom and has been circulating throughout various parts of the world, is thought to be more contagious than what has previously been in the United States, The Washington Post reported.
Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK.
The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. pic.twitter.com/fjyq7QhzBi
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) December 29, 2020
The strain has spread to at least 17 other countries outside the U.K. so far and has typically come from individuals who recently traveled from the country, reports the Post. While the strain is thought to be more infectious than other forms of the virus, there is no evidence it is more harmful at this point, experts have said.
Current vaccines available for public use and in development are expected to be effective against the strain, and there are no signs that people who have previously been infected with earlier forms of COVID-19 are particularly susceptible to the new strain, according to the Post. (RELATED: Study Raises New Questions On Asymptomatic Spread Of COVID-19 In Households)
Experts suspect the mutated form of the virus was likely already in the U.S., potentially for as long as several weeks. “I’m not surprised,” director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday. “I think we have to keep an eye on it, and we have to take it seriously. We obviously take any kind of mutation that might have a functional significance seriously. But I don’t think we know enough about it to make any definitive statements.”