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Found in Colorado

The first case of the SARS-CoV-2 strain that is suspected to be more infectious has been identified in the US, the New York Times reports.

Earlier this month, heath officials in the UK noticed a new viral strain — called B.1.1.7 — that appeared to spread more easily. A new preprint further suggests that the strain may be 56 percent more transmissible, though, as the Times notes, there is no evidence the strain leads to more severe disease. 

The B.1.1.7 strain had since been detected in Australia, Canada, and South Korea, and now has been found in Colorado, the Washington Post reports. The Times notes that the strain may not have arisen in the UK, but was first detected there as it has a SARS-CoV-2 sequencing program in place. It adds that the earliest B.1.1.7 strain uncovered in the UK was from September, suggesting it likely had already spread between countries. 

As the strain has been found in a Colorado man with no history of travel, it suggests the strain may be well established in the US, the Times adds.

The Post further notes, though, that there is a dearth of viral genome data from the US. "The lack of virus sequencing and case tracking in the USA is a scandal," Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, tells it.