CDC: No sign of homegrown U.S. coronavirus variant, but scientists need to look harder
Wed, 01/13/2021 – 03:00
While no imported or homegrown strain of coronavirus appears to be driving the recent surge in infections and deaths, experts admit they cannot be sure at this point. One reason for the lack of certainty is that some states are not adequately equipped for genomic sequencing, which allows dangerous mutations to be tracked. In an effort to stay on top of developments, CDC has hosted virtual meetings with researchers and public health experts to share what is known about the variants currently in circulation. The agency also says its strain surveillance initiative is expected by the end of the week to more than double from last month the number of genomic sequences entered into public databases. While the general consensus at the moment is that holiday get-togethers, lack of compliance with mask mandates or other mitigation protocols, and other factors are likely responsible for the new wave of cases—rather than any single variant of the virus—mutations are nonetheless worrisome. Experts are particularly concerned about the effect if a variant is more contagious and/or if it is not tamed by the vaccines that are available.