Experts braced for SARS-CoV-2 variant-fueled increases in COVID-19 cases in the US in the winter, but the New York Times writes that those waves largely did not arrive — but that that was mostly due to luck.
The first known case in the US of COVID-19 due to the B.1.1.7 variant — the variant first identified in the UK — was uncovered in late December, and other variants, originating from both outside the US and inside, were not far behind, the Times adds. At the time, the US was experiencing a surge in cases following the winter holidays and vaccination efforts had barely begun.
But a combination of factors such as mask-wearing and social distancing appears to have bought the US time to begin those vaccinations, the Times writes. At the same time, it notes that the B.1.1.7 variant — which now accounts for about three-quarters of COVID-19 cases in the US — is susceptible to vaccines.
"I think we got lucky, to be honest," Yale University's Nathan Grubaugh tells the Times. "We're being rescued by the vaccine."