Wednesday, February 17, 2021

CDC: National & Global Tracking Of COVID Variants (Feb 16th)

Mutation of SARS-CoV2 - current variants of concern  - ECDC      


The CDC has been posting updated interactive maps of the detection of COVID Variants within the United States since the first week of January, and updated those numbers against last night.  The CDC also unveiled a new, global map yesterday, showing which countries have reported which variants. 

For now, these maps continue to focus on the `big three' variants of greatest concern.

  • B.1.1.7 aka `UK' variant
  • B.1.351 aka `South African' variant
  • P.1  ak `Brazilian' variant

As the field becomes more crowded, and the significance of additional variants becomes clearer, we may see others included.  The latest national update (below) reports 1299 variants detected across 43 states. 

These numbers are in no way believed to fully reflect the spread of variants in the United States, as genomic sequencing is done on less than 1% of COVID positive cases.  In some states, fewer than 1 in 1,000 cases are sequenced. 

The B.1.1.7 variant continues to dominate this report and has been forecast to become the dominant variant in the United States by March (see MMWR: Emergence Of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Lineage — United States, Dec 29, 2020–Jan 12, 2021).

Early analyses suggested there was no evidence that - other than being more transmissible - this variant posed any greater danger to human health, but in recent weeks we've seen several studies suggesting it may carry a 30% to 70% higher fatality rate (see UK: Updated NERVTAG Report On Increased Severity With COVID Variant B.1.1.7).

The CDC unveiled a new global surveillance page this week, with an interactive map showing which nations are reported each of these three types of variants. 

How CDC is responding to SARS-CoV-2 variants globally

Updated Feb. 16, 2021

A new SARS-CoV-2 variant has one or more mutations that differentiate it from predominant virus variants already circulating among the general population. Variants are expected to occur as viruses are constantly changing. Surveillance can help investigate how some variants may impact COVID-19 disease transmission or severity and the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics.
CDC works with partners around the world to respond to the pandemic. As part of these efforts, CDC is working to expand the capacity to detect and respond to newly identified variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
For more on Global COVID-19 activities

CDC’s global activities

Expanding sequencing capacity

Sequencing is a laboratory technique that is used to read the genetic code and identify variants of SARS-CoV-2. CDC is working with more than 20 countries in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe to establish or expand sequencing capacity so that more samples of SARS-CoV-2, including variants, can be identified, characterized, and reported.
Collaborating with partners
CDC supports the global COVID-19 response through collaborations with the World Health Organization (WHO), Ministries of Health, academic and research institutions, and other organizations in order to track the rapidly evolving situation of variants. Links for additional information on variants can be found below:
Sharing information

It’s important to learn as much as possible about the characteristics of new variants, wherever they are detected. CDC is providing guidance about field- and laboratory-based studies that help provide critical information about variants.

Supporting the response
Some variants have the ability to spread quickly and the presence of variants is leading to increased numbers of cases in some settings and placing strain on the healthcare systems. CDC is supporting the response by working to improve access to testing, building capacity for surveillance of variants, and studying SARS-CoV-2 to understand how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and what happens to people who are infected with it.