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Doctor Holding Coronavirus Vaccine Syringe

Vaccine Providers Pledge 240 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses By The End Of March 

Johnson & Johnson has joined Pfizer and Moderna in their commitment to the US to provide a total of 240 million vaccine doses by the end of March. The drug companies told a House subcommittee this week that they expect to deliver this amount of doses after Johnson & Johnson pledged to add 20 million additional doses to Pfizer and Moderna’s 220 million dose pledge should the company receive emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration this week. 

Dr. Richard Nettles is J&J’s vice president of medical affairs who spoke with the lawmakers regarding the company’s pledge should they receive the EUA as expected. 

“If the emergency use authorization is received as expected this week, we hope to contribute to ending this pandemic as soon as possible.”

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Nettles claims that the company is prepared to ship out 4 million doses immediately upon authorization of the vaccine. Executives from each of the vaccine makers testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations this past Tuesday. 

If AstraZeneca secures an FDA authorization as well it will become the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the US. Dr. Ruud Dobber, the executive vice president and president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, said the company “will immediately release 30 million doses upon authorization of the vaccine and up to 50 million doses by the end of April.”

Pfizer initially planned to deliver up to 40 million doses of their vaccine by the end of 2020, however, they just reached that milestone last week. Moderna was close to reaching their goal of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 but fell short by just a week. Executives for the companies claimed that a lack of access to raw materials and manufacturing a product that has never been made before were the main issues in production. John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, recently spoke about this issue to the media. 

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“We did initially experience some problems with the initial ramp up of our vaccine. We particularly saw some rate-limiting steps for raw materials.” 

“We ultimately had never–when we were trying to make those estimates — manufactured at this scale, and so we had a lot to learn along the way. As we look back, could we have maybe started earlier in that process and lining up all of the critical raw materials sooner, would we have been able to get there a little bit faster instead of the first week of January, last week of December? It’s possible. Certainly hindsight, and that is 20-20 for us,” said Moderna’s president Dr. Stephen Hoge.

Moderna is currently seeking FDA approval for increasing the number of doses in each Covid-19 vaccine vial from 10 to 15. Hodge claims this would “accelerate delivery substantially and decrease the demand for some critical, high-demand raw materials. Obviously, any gains — for instance, filling more doses in a vial — we will take. We need to get more doses more quickly into peoples’ arms.”

Johnson & Johnson will be finding out if they receive an emergency use authorization this Friday.

Scientists Want To Use Artificial Intelligence To ‘Predict The Next Coronavirus’

A team of scientists are working to use artificial intelligence (AI) to work out when another novel coronavirus could emerge. The researchers are using a combination of fundamental biology as well as machine learning to get a better grasp over where these viruses come from. 

The computer algorithm being used has already predicted a multitude of potential hosts that new virus strains have been detected in during past studies, and could potentially be detected in during future outbreaks. The findings themselves have been published in the journal of Nature Communications. 

Dr. Marcus Blagrove is a virologist from the University of Liverpool in the UK who was involved in the study. He explained that the goal of the study was to hopefully get a grasp on where the next coronavirus could come from. 

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“One way coronaviruses are generated is through recombination between two existing coronaviruses. Basically two viruses infect the same cell and recombine into a ‘daughter’ virus, or an entirely new strain of the virus we’ve been fighting.”

Researchers were able to place existing biological evidence into an AI algorithm, which then taught the computer how to spot certain viruses and host species that are the most likely to be the source of the recombination based on environmental stats. 

The team first “asked” their AI algorithm to look at certain biological patterns so that they could predict which mammals may be the most susceptible to known coronavirus strains. This would mean that those specific species are most vulnerable to being the host for recombinations as well. The initial research showed links between 411 coronavirus strains and 876 potential mammal species hosts. 

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Lead researcher Dr. Maya Wardeh was able to use existing biological knowledge to teach the algorithm to search for specific patterns that equated to a correlation between the species and virus strains. 

“We were able to predict which species had the chance for many coronaviruses to infect them, either because they are very closely related to a species known to carry a coronavirus or because they share the same geographical space.”

The Asian palm civet and greater horseshoe bat, for example, were predicted to be host to 32 and 68 different coronaviruses, respectively. And in species including the common hedgehog, the European rabbit and the dromedary camel, the algorithm predicted that Sars-CoV-2 might recombine with other, existing coronaviruses,” she continued.

The scientists behind the study claim that their findings could help target the surveillance for new diseases, and potentially prevent another pandemic from occurring before it even starts.  Dr Wardeh explained, however, that these findings are “not a reason to demonize these species. Spill-over of viruses into human populations tends to be linked to human activities like wildlife trade and farming. But it’s virtually impossible to survey all animals all the time, so our approach enables prioritization. It says these are the species to watch. If we can find them before they get into humans, then we could work on developing drugs and vaccines and on stopping them getting into humans in the first place.”

Positive Coronavirus

LA County Now Has 8 Confirmed Cases Of UK Covid-19 Variant 

Los Angeles County recorded another five cases of the UK coronavirus variant this past Tuesday, bringing the total number of variant cases up to eight for the county. Officials are currently expected to enforce measures to prevent citizens from traveling, however, the past month has left residents hopeless after numerous public establishments that promote close contact have remained open despite California being one of the world’s hot spots for Covid-19. 

The variant is scientifically referred to as B117, and the reason its presence is so concerning is because its more transmissible than the standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past year, which as we know, is already extremely contagious. Health experts do believe that all current vaccines being distributed in America will likely work against B117, however, curbing the spread is top priority so that we can get everyone vaccinated. 

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California was just beginning to recover after a post-holiday increase in cases, but now the presence of this variant and lack of lockdown procedures being enforced is a major cause for concern. 

Statewide about 159 cases of the UK variant have been detected, but those aren’t the only Covid-19 mutation cases that are raising some red flags among healthcare workers. Around 1,200 cases of two different “west coast variants” of Covid-19 have been reported in the state, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer also recently spoke with tht media about the South African coronavirus variant, stating that even though California hasn’t reported any cases of that variant, “that doesn’t mean it’s not there. There’s just no way that the state doesn’t have a fair amount of variants circulating, it’s more of a question of how much and will any of them become dominant.” 

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“It’s unlikely LA County’s latest surge was due to the UK variant, it’s possible there were mutations that were circulating in the state that were already more infectious. We know that at least 50% of our samples have shown the ‘California variant’ already.”

LA County Department of Public Health posted a memo regarding the new mutations and the virus response in general: “COVID-19 surged after Thanksgiving and Christmas travel in November and December. The more people travel, the more interactions they have with individuals outside of their household, the greater the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Shared transportation, including travel by air, bus, or rail, can not only put travelers at risk but also all members of the community if infected travelers spread COVID-19 to others after returning to Los Angeles County.”

The B117 variant has been found already in dozens of states; 932 cases have been reported nationwide according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are only weeks away from reducing transmission in L.A. County to a level where elementary schools will be allowed by the state to offer in-class instruction, provided they adhere to all State and County directives… Please do your part to continue to slow the spread so that our recovery journey does not suffer a setback,” Ferrer said in a statement. 

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Americans Covid-19 Vaccine

CDC Reports 22 Million Americans Have Now Been Vaccinated For Covid-19 Safely 

Early safety data from the first month of Covid-19 vaccinations in America has shown that the shots are just as safe as the studies have suggested. So far every individual who has experienced an allergic reaction to the vaccine has been successfully treated, and no other serious problems have appeared within the 22 million people who have now been vaccinated. 

The data has been collected from several different tracking systems throughout the nation. One of the voluntary programs lets patients easily text any symptoms they experience after being vaccinated directly to the researchers collecting the information. Another program specifically seeks out people who have had a negative reaction to the vaccine and the other collects reports from medical records.

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The CDC has claimed it’s nearly impossible to prove something is 100% safe, however, the data from these tracking systems is exactly what health officials need to see in order to continue with vaccination programs, as they only further prove what the trials already told them. These systems have also ensured healthcare officials already that the approved vaccines are not causing any dangerous or negative effects among large groups of people; meaning any negative symptom that has appeared so far has been due to the individuals personal immune response and isn’t an indication of a larger problem. 

As it currently stands more than 22 million Americans have received at least one of the two vaccine doses from either Pfizer or Moderna. Of those more than 70% reported pain, 33% fatigue, 30% headaches, 23% muscle pain, and about 11% chills, fever, swelling, or joint pain. The side effects were also the same among both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, though people generally had a harder time recovering from the second dose than the first. 

According to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, “more than 9,000 people reported side effects after vaccination. The problems in slightly more than 1,000 of those reports were considered serious. The majority of complaints involved headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, chills, fever and pain.”

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One way that the CDC looks to see whether or not a vaccine is safe or not is to look at the number of individuals who have died within a few days of their vaccination, and compare it to the number of people expected to die over a given period of time. The reporting system showed 196 deaths after Covid-19 vaccinations, of those, 66% were residents of long-term care facilities; 1.3 million nursing home residents have been vaccinated within the past month. 

“In a group that large followed over that length of time, 11,440 people would be expected to die of all causes. That led the CDC to conclude the much lower number of nursing home deaths were not caused by vaccination,” according to Barbara Bardenheier of the Brown University School of Public Health. 

“Findings suggest that short-term mortality rates appear unrelated to vaccination for COVID-19 in skilled nursing facility residents,” according to a summary of the study’s results. The CDC is currently investigating whether or not individuals who have had Covid-19 in the past and have been vaccinated are more susceptible to an allergic response, however, no solid link has been found at this time.

CDC Director Admits The US Doesn’t ‘Have Enough Vaccines’ To Keep Up With Demands

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, spoke to the media this past Sunday admitting that America doesn’t have enough Covid-19 vaccines to meet every states’ specific needs. The announcement comes after states like New York and Georgia have begun pleading with the federal government to send them more doses. 

“Right now, that is the pressure point that I am feeling and by the end of March or so I really do hope our production scale has scaled up dramatically and that we actually have way more than we have right now.”

This Sunday America surpassed more than 25 million Covid-19 cases and 417,900 deaths recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. President Joe Biden initially promised that 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would be distributed within the first 100 days that he’s in office, but if the nation continues at the rate it’s going the entire country would be lucky to have received their first dose by the end of the year.

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“Yes, we have to go faster…I think the supply is going to be the most limiting constraint early on,” Walensky said, adding that the nation was able to complete its goal of one million doses every day this past Saturday with around 1,060,000 doses administered. “We’re really hoping that after the first 100 days we’ll have much more production, not just for these two vaccines, but we’re hopeful we’ll have another one from Johnson & Johnson in the weeks ahead and perhaps a fourth one coming down the pipeline. So we’re really hoping that we’ll have more vaccines and that will increase the pace at which we can do the vaccinations,” she added.  

When asked about the difficulty that the Biden administration is facing in regards to inheriting Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, Walensky explained that “one of the biggest issues right now is how much vaccine doses America has.  If I can’t tell that to you then I can’t tell it to the governors and I can’t tell it to the state health officials. If they don’t know how much vaccine they’re getting, not just this week but next week and the week after, they can’t plan. They can’t figure out how many sites to roll out, how many vaccinators they need and how many appointments to make for the public,’ Walensky said.

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“The fact that we don’t know today, five days into this administration and weeks into planning how much vaccine we have, just gives you a sense of the challenges we’ve been left with from the previous administration.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on Biden to “do whatever he can to increase the supply,” claiming that the state’s vaccine stockpile may already be exhausted completely. Cuomo explained that “the federal government allocates dosages by week, and yesterday we exhausted all five weeks allocation. We are now starting to receive week 6 allocations which trickle in during the week, they’re delivered by Washington to individual locations.

“We’ll be getting 250,000 dosages in week 6, but it could take up to 17 weeks to inoculate the seven million New Yorkers currently eligible for the vaccine unless the federal government begins to send more.”

Joe Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, claimed that “the Biden administration is saying the federal government will have a much heavier hand than the previous administration.” Data from the CDC directly showed that 20,537,990 vaccines have been administered in the US to date.

Stressed Out Nurse

CDC Warns That US Is Expected To Have 500,000 Covid-19 Deaths By February

The US is about to hit 400,000 Covid-19 related deaths as it endures the worst phase of the pandemic yet. With the rollout of multiple vaccines and a new administration entering the White House, who’s promising that future coronavirus protocols will be based on science and have nothing to do with politics, many Americans are hopeful, however the CDC is warning that the damage has been done, and the nation should expect to hit half a million deaths within the next month. 

“By the middle of February, we expect half a million coronavirus deaths in America.” 

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UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Anne Rimoin recently spoke with the media about the news of a new Covid-19 variant discovered in Los Angeles that is thought to be much more transmissible than the already extremely contagious Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past ten months. California currently leads the entire world in coronavirus cases with over 3 million residents currently infected. 

Rimoin discussed how she suspects there are more variants active throughout the population, and compared searching for these variants to “shining a flashlight in the dark, because you’re going to see something if you start to look, we just haven’t been looking.” It’s expected that with the Biden administration promising to lead future Covid procedures based on the panel of healthcare experts and scientists – who are being sworn to lead without any political bias – that these variants will be easier to find, which will help lead to containment efforts. 

Nationwide rollouts of the vaccine’s have led to some major confusion as well. Initially the US wanted to have 20 million people vaccinated with their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, and as of five days ago the CDC reported only 6 million Americans have received their first dose so far.

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Florida, which is another US hot spot for Covid-19 due to a complete lack of enforcement of policy in regard to keeping bars and restaurants open, has been struggling greatly in terms of vaccine rollouts. According to immunocompromised Palm Beach resident Elizabeth Johnson, “you can’t get an appointment, you can’t buy an appointment, it’s all very unclear so what are we supposed to do?”

That level of confusion has been relatively common throughout the US in terms of vaccinations. Florida’s department of health has claims that more than 40,000 individuals are already overdue to receive their second dose of the vaccine. The timing of this new science-led administrative response to the pandemic couldn’t have come at a better time for this country. In LA County current data shows that one person is dying every six minutes; meanwhile all malls and gyms in LA remain open. 

Coroner office’s are so overwhelmed by the influx of bodies that LA County has eased up on their air pollution and quality rules to allow for more cremations to occur, and they’re not alone. Metropolitan hospitals all throughout the US are overwhelmed to a degree that is so much exponentially worse than where we were at even a few months ago. Only time will tell how much this new administration is able to get this pandemic finally under control.

US Covid Vaccine

Covid-19 Vaccine Delays And Lack Of Federal Action Putting US In Deadly Position 

For the past 40 days, the US has surpassed 100,000 hospitalizations relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. While health officials across the country are doing their best to speed up vaccine distribution so that average Americans can begin receiving their dosages, a lack of federal action and planning is once again hindering the nation’s ability to heal from this pandemic. 

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, spoke with the media recently about how America “really needs to get this vaccine out more quickly, because this really is our only tool for beating this pandemic.” Experts have been saying from the beginning that universal mask wearing, social distancing, and widespread vaccination is the only way this pandemic will fully reach its end. However, after ten months of nearly no enforcement of these procedures on a federal level, over 22 million Americans have been infected, and over 370,000 have died.

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So far 22.1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine has been distributed, and 6.7 million people have actually received their first dose, however, the initial plan was to get 20 million people vaccinated with their first dose by the end of 2020. Due to a complete lack of interest from the current president and his administration within the past two months, hundreds of thousands of Americans have continued to suffer while their government watched and made daily claims of a fraudulent and unfair election. The only new aide that the government has provided is a $600 stimulus check to every American, after nearly nine months of no other economic assistance.

The US hit a new record last week and surpassed 4,000 Covid-19 deaths in a single day. California alone is thought to be a major epicenter for the virus, after they added almost 50,000 new cases on Sunday alone, bringing the state total up to more than 2.6 million. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, which has been recording data regarding this pandemic in America since March, within the first 11 days of 2021, 28,400 new Covid-19 deaths have been reported. At this current rate, more individuals could die from Covid-19 in January than any other month of this pandemic due to an extreme influx in holiday travel and lack of policy. 

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“We should expect to set new records for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the coming weeks. Policy action is urgently needed to mitigate the worst possible outcome.”

Joe Gerald, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, recently expressed great concern about the “inevitable arrival of the more transmissible” strain of Covid-19 that has appeared in the UK, and is thought to have been in the US since September. “If it gathers a foothold it will accelerate, lengthen, and deepen the outbreaks in Arizona and other states like it.” 

The recent riot at the US Capitol will also likely lead to a “surge event” of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to the fact that a majority of Trump’s supporters are anti-mask, and the footage from the violent event clearly showed a crowd of hundreds of individuals not wearing a mask, mobbed together in a giant crowd. 

Medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen recently shared a statement to the press about this reckless riot that will lead to even more death and infection: “It’s very likely they’re engaging in other risky behaviors there and potentially seeding coronavirus all around the country, wherever they came from. I hope that everyone who participated in those events will go back and quarantine and get tested.”

Many of the rioters who have been identified from images online but have yet to be arrested are being placed on No Fly lists, and local authorities for individuals who came from out of state to participate in the riot have been notified of their citizens involvement in the act of domestic terror that took place last week.

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LA County Ambulance Crews Told Not To Transport Patients With ‘Little Chance Of Survival’ 

Los Angeles County has been a hot spot for Covid-19 within the past six months, and now, it’s the worst it’s ever been. About one in five residents in the county are now testing positive for Covid-19, meaning within one month the county doubled its number of infections; around 40,000 cases on November 30th to more than 800,000 on January 2nd. 

The amount of new infections appearing is causing hospitals to be completely overwhelmed. In fact, all intensive care units throughout the region are now at maximum capacity. 7,600 residents of LA county are currently hospitalized and battling the virus, and 21% of those residents are in the ICU.

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With no hospital beds available, ambulance crews in LA county have been given guidance to not transport patients with little chance of survival, as the patients who are transported often have to wait hours before a bed can be made available. Hospital supervisor Hilda Solis recently spoke with the media about the current situation, calling it a “human disaster.” 

“Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units, we have people dying from this virus every 15 minutes.” 

Officials are also extremely worried because they know it’s about to get so much worse with new cases appearing from the holidays due to an excess in travel that still occurred despite all of the warnings against it. 

“The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and returning travelers. We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic, and that’s hard to imagine,” said Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer.

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Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) specifically directed ambulance crews not to transport patients with little to no chance of survival due to the need to conserve oxygen supplies. Los Angeles hospitals are at a capacity they never thought possible in the past. The county EMS said patients whose hearts have stopped despite efforts of resuscitation should no longer be transported to hospitals. 

“Effective immediately, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EMS and 9-1-1 Receiving Hospitals, adult patients (18 years of age or older) in blunt traumatic and non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) shall not be transported [if]return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is not achieved in the field,” the agency said in a memo sent to ambulance workers.

If there are no signs of breathing or a pulse, EMS will continue to perform resuscitation for at least 20 minutes, and if the patient becomes stabilized after that period of resuscitation, they would be taken to the hospital. If a patient is declared dead at the scene or no pulse is able to be restored, paramedics will no longer be able to transport the body to the hospital. 

Some EMT’s told the press that even when they are able to bring patients into the hospitals they can be waiting between two to four hours almost every time. While these ambulances and crew members are waiting at hospitals, there are fewer healthcare employees and resources available to respond to other 911 calls. For now, no further lockdown efforts have been made to curb this spread in LA.

New Strain Covid-19

Researchers Believe New UK Covid-19 Strain Has Already Infected ‘Hundreds’ Of Americans

Researchers studying the new UK strain of the coronavirus believe that it likely already is in the US, and has been since mid-November. It’s important to note that health officials have already determined that the new strain shows no major differences from the Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past ten months, and the vaccine will still work against this variant. The biggest issue has been that individuals who get infected with this strain are more likely to have a severe case of the virus. 

“If I had to guess, I would say it’s probably hundreds of Americans by now, it’s very possible it’s arrived multiple times in multiple places.”

Michael Worobey is the head of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona who recently spoke with the media about this new strain’s entrance into the US. Scientists in the UK have traced the new strain’s earliest known appearance to Kent, London on September 20th of this year. 

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“Imagine the amount of infected travelers leaving London — that’s been increasing exponentially,” said Trevor Bedford, associate professor in the vaccine and infectious disease division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Both Worobey and Bedford have estimated that the virus likely made its way to the US in mid-November. 

Scientists in the UK and around the world are now scouring genetic sequences of certain Covid-19 cases in the US to determine if any match up with the UK variant. So far none have been found, but that’s likely due to the fact that the US’s surveillance and tracking system is lacking when compared to other countries. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently discussed this new strain with the press in one of his daily briefings. 

“You really need to assume that it’s here already, it certainly is not the dominant strain, but I would not be surprised if it is already here and we didn’t detect it.” 

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The UK Covid-19 strain has not been identified in the US via genetic sequencing, however, of the 17 million coronavirus cases that the nation has now dealt with, only 51,000 have been sequenced, so there’s really no telling how many of those millions of cases were the UK strain. The CDC released a statement about their tracking efforts this week in response to this strain’s momentum in the UK. 

“Given the small fraction of US infections that have already been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without being detected.” 

In order to detect new variants of the virus, scientists must look at samples from infected patients and then sequence the genetics of those samples to look at the specific letter order in the genetic code. Since mid-November, when it’s believed this new strain entered the US, the UK has performed 9,000 genetic sequences while the US has only performed 300. 

Last month, however, the CDC launched a new strain surveillance program that would require states to send in at least 10 samples, two times a week, for analysis; the agency is expecting to have this program fully up and running in January.