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The CDC says this COVID variant is now the most dominant. And it hits younger people.

April 7, 2021, 10:55 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Wednesday pointed to the so-called U.K. variant of the coronavirus as the leading cause of new COVID cases in the U.S. And it’s hitting younger Americans, including those in their 30s and 40s, the hardest.

“The B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky during a briefing this afternoon, referring to the scientific name for that particular strain of the coronavirus.

“Trends are increasing in both case numbers and hospitalizations,” Walensky said, citing day care centers and youth sports as the progenitors of newly reported outbreaks.

As readers know, viruses know no borders and don’t harbor nationalities. They change, they mutate, they evolve in order to meet their specific need to spread and survive as long as possible. So while it’s convenient to label a new strain of a pathogen according to national origin, the reality is that a virus will do what a virus always does: Multiply and spread.

The concerning part, as Walensky laid out, is that this variant of the coronavirus appears to be hitting people who may be too young to be eligible for a vaccine dose yet.

It’s unclear exactly what the age breakdown is when it comes to this variant strain, since the situation is in flux and information is still trickling in. But there have been more than 16,000 confirmed cases of this particular variant, according to the CDC, which led Walensky to urge caution and distancing measures when it comes to youth sports and indoor gatherings.

The Biden administration has been pushing to open up eligibility, including its recent announcement that all American adults should be eligible in less than two weeks to get a shot.

The theme here is: Vigilance. Yes, a younger person without underlying conditions is likely to pull through a COVID infection without too much difficulty.

But with a highly transmissible strain that appears to be spreading among younger people, which can still knock them down or make them feel miserable, even if it’s not fatal, the immunization campaign and social safety measures remain critical.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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