The highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain likely accounts for up to 30 percent of COVID-19 infections in the United States, Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, said on Friday.
The variant, called B.1.1.7, has been reported in at least 94 countries and detected in 50 jurisdictions in the United States, Fauci said during a White House briefing on the pandemic, adding that the numbers are likely growing.
Fauci said the B.1.1.7 variant is 50 percent more transmissible and likely to cause more severe disease.
Public health officials and experts are especially concerned about new variants as they could become more resistant to antibody treatments and vaccines.
Fauci urged Americans to get vaccinated as quickly as possible to avoid variants spread.
A total of 5,795 infection cases of coronavirus variants had been reported in the United States as of Thursday, according to data of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.