US fails to track Covid-19 variants: Report

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Washington– The US has failed to develop a surveillance system that would allow researchers to track dangerous mutations of the novel coronavirus, according to a media report.

To discover consequential genetic variations of the virus, like more transmissible variants first identified in Britain and South Africa, research is essential, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday citing the Guardian report as saying.

However, as of January 29, the US had only plotted and shared the genetic sequences of 0.3 per cent of its Covid-19 cases, ranking 30th in the world, the report said.

“It’s just been a head-in-the-sand approach,” Diane Griffin, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health was quoted in the Guardian report as saying.

“It was really a failure of leadership.”

According to the latest data by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the hardest-hit country has so far reported more than 470 cases of the new coronavirus variants in at least 32 states.

According to the CDC data issued on Monday, vast majority of these cases, 467, were caused by the variant known as B.1.1.7, which was originally detected late last year in Britain, reports Xinhua news agency.

There were three cases of a strain initially detected in South Africa, called B.1.351, and one of the P.1 strain first found in Brazil.

These cases were identified based on the sampling of SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens, and do not represent the total number of coronavirus variant cases that may be circulating in the US, said the CDC.

The pandemic has so far infected a total of 26,673,780 people across the US and killed 455,657 others, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s latest update on Friday morning.

January 2021 was by far the deadliest month of the pandemic in the country, with over 95,000 Covid-19 deaths, surpassing December 2020’s total of over 77,000 deaths. (IANS)

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