A severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant, VOC 202012/01 (lineage B.1.1.7), emerged in southeast England in September 2020 and is rapidly spreading toward fixation. Using a variety of statistical and dynamic modeling approaches, we estimate that this variant has a 43 to 90% (range of 95% credible intervals, 38 to 130%) higher reproduction number than preexisting variants. A fitted two-strain dynamic transmission model shows that VOC 202012/01 will lead to large resurgences of COVID-19 cases. Without stringent control measures, including limited closure of educational institutions and a greatly accelerated vaccine rollout, COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths across England in the first 6 months of 2021 were projected to exceed those in 2020. VOC 202012/01 has spread globally and exhibits a similar transmission increase (59 to 74%) in Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States.
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Davies, N., Abbott, S., Barnard, R., Jarvis, C., Kucharski, A., Munday, J., Pearson, C., Russell, T., Tully, D., Washburne, A., Wenseleers, T., Gimma, A., Waites, W., Wong, K., van Zandvoort, K., Silverman, J., CMMID COVID-19 Working Group, COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, Diaz-Ordaz, K., Keogh, R., Eggo, R., Funk, S., Jit, M., Atkins, K. & Edmunds, W. 2021, 'Estimated transmissibility and impact of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 in England', Science, 372(6538), article no: eabg3055. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abg3055