The United States has recorded more than 460 cases of a more easily transmitted coronavirus variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom late last year. But one state has reported more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant than any others: Florida.
Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that Florida has recorded 147 of the total 467 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that have been identified in the country. California follows behind with 113 cases, while New York is third with 42.
Colorado was the first U.S. state to identify the mutation with other states quickly following suit.
The strain has been dominant in the U.K. since mid-December and is thought to spread about 50% more easily than COVID-19. What’s more, U.K. scientists recently said the strain could be more deadly.
Early data suggests that existing coronavirus vaccines will remain effective against variants, though one strain that was first detected in South Africa has diminished the vaccines’ efficacy.
The variants have caused concern among infectious disease experts who are still grappling to help the country take control over COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci, for instance, warned late last week that these mutations “have clinical consequences” and should serve as a “wakeup call” that the vaccines currently in development may need tweaks to combat new strains.
Fauci’s comments came hours after Johnson & Johnson released a study indicating that its one-shot vaccine proved to be 72% effective in the U.S. against moderate-to-severe coronavirus, but fell to 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa where the B.1.351 variant has taken over.
“What we now know from this study, namely the J&J and the Novavax study, that antigenic variation, i.e. mutations that lead to different lineage, do have clinical consequences because as you can see, even though the long-range effect in the sense of severe disease is still handled reasonably well by the vaccines, this is a wakeup call to all of us that we will be dealing, as the virus uses its devices to evade pressure, particularly immunological pressure, that we will continue to see the evolution of mutants,” Fauci said during Friday’s White House coronavirus briefing.
Fox News’ Alexandria Hein and Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.