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Spread of New Virus Variants Is Concerning, C.D.C. Says

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the C.D.C., said the agency was concerned about the transmission of new coronavirus variants and suggested that relying on U.S. vaccinations alone would not be effective.

“While cases and hospitalizations continue to move in the right direction, we remain in the midst of a very serious pandemic and we continue to have more cases than we did even during last month’s — last summer’s peak. And the continued spread of variants that are more transmissible could jeopardize the progress we have made in the last month if our — if we let our guard down. As of yesterday we have confirmed 1,277 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant across 42 states. I know these variants are concerning, especially as we’re seeing signs of progress. I’m talking about them today because I am concerned too. Fortunately the science to date suggests that the same prevention actions apply to these variants. So I would articulate really loudly that if you’re relying on our current level of vaccination rather than the other mitigation efforts to get us to remain low, that we shouldn’t rest in that comfort. We are scaling up vaccination as much as we can, but we are not at the level where we believe that the vaccination alone is what’s driving the decrease in cases right now. In terms of sequencing, we are scaling up sequencing every day. When we will get to 25,000 depends on the resources that we have at our fingertips and how quickly we can mobilize our partners. I don’t think this is going to be a light switch. I think it’s going to be a dial.

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