The White House coronavirus task force believes another highly infectious variant of the coronavirus may have evolved in the United States, NBC News reported on Friday, citing a document that was sent out to US states.
The report said the new strain is already surging in US communities alongside the variant first detected in the United Kingdom and could be 50 percent more transmissible.
The task force noted that the recent surge of new cases is almost double the number registered during spring and summer.
"This acceleration suggests there may be a USA variant that has evolved here, in addition to the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities and may be 50% more transmissible," the report said.
“Aggressive mitigation must be used to match a more aggressive virus; without uniform implementation of effective face masking (two or three ply and well-fitting) and strict social distancing, epidemics could quickly worsen as these variants spread and become predominant."
According to the data of Johns Hopkins University, the US is seeing at least around 228,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, accompanied by at least 2,700 deaths related to the virus per day.
The task force report sent to states on January 3 said aggressive mitigation measures are necessary to contain the spread of the new strain, such as strict social distancing and using effective face masks.
The report purportedly does not provide any information on how long this new variant has been circulating within the nation. Nor does it mention if the strain that evolved in the US is more lethal than the others.
The US authorities registered the first confirmed case of the UK's new coronavirus strain at the end of December in the state of Colorado. Health officials have said that an investigation is underway since the first patient had no recent travel history at all, thus it is believed that the new variant of the virus has already been circulating in the US.
The US has seen 21,776,072 confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic in March last year. The overall death toll of the country has reached 367,635, the current count of Johns Hopkins University says.
Mutated COVID-19 virus from the UK
In late December, British health officials noted that a new variant of the novel coronavirus had emerged in the country. This new strain is considered to be up to 70% more contagious than the original coronavirus, yet not more lethal than other COVID-19 strains detected in the world.
On Friday, mayor of London Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in the UK capital due to the rapid spread of the virus that is inflicting a heavy burden on the National Health Service, which is leading the country's fight against the novel coronavirus, as "one in 30 Londoners now has COVID-19", the mayor stressed.
BREAKING: I have declared a major incident in London because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point.— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) January 8, 2021
One in 30 Londoners now has COVID-19. If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.https://t.co/OjV7SZ4BgQ
In light of the significant rise of new daily infection cases in the country attributed to the spread of the new strain, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown on Monday, which came into force this Thursday. The new measure comes as the UK continues to see all-time record highs of daily confirmed cases, which topped 60,000 on Tuesday, despite having started the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in December.