U.S. health official warns new coronavirus variants pose risk of another surge

A senior U.S. health official has warned of a possible renewed surge of COVID-19 infections fueled by new and more contagious coronavirus variants, as over 2,100 cases of variants infections have been reported across the nation.

“Right now, it does look as if in the United States, we’re at some risk of another surge due to this variant called B.1.1.7,” said Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health Francis Collins in an interview with CNN on Thursday.

The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in Britain, has caused 2,102 infections in 45 U.S. states as of Thursday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A total of 2,157 infection cases of coronavirus variants have been reported in the United States, CDC data show.

Collins noted that the country is on a downward trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But that may not last.

“We should not in any way assume that that downward slope is inevitable. It could start back up again,” he said.

Scientists are raising concerns over a new coronavirus variant that has been identified in California.

Studies suggest the variant, referred to as B.1.427/B.1.429 or CAL2.0C, might not only be more contagious, but may also cause more severe disease.