Emergence and rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 in the United States

Cell. 2021 May 13;184(10):2587-2594.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.052. Epub 2021 Mar 30.


The highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2, first identified in the United Kingdom, has gained a foothold across the world. Using S gene target failure (SGTF) and SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequencing, we investigated the prevalence and dynamics of this variant in the United States (US), tracking it back to its early emergence. We found that, while the fraction of B.1.1.7 varied by state, the variant increased at a logistic rate with a roughly weekly doubling rate and an increased transmission of 40%-50%. We revealed several independent introductions of B.1.1.7 into the US as early as late November 2020, with community transmission spreading it to most states within months. We show that the US is on a similar trajectory as other countries where B.1.1.7 became dominant, requiring immediate and decisive action to minimize COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: 501Y.V1; B.1.1.7; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; VOC-202012/01; genomic epidemiology; variant of concern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / genetics
  • COVID-19* / mortality
  • COVID-19* / transmission
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • SARS-CoV-2* / genetics
  • SARS-CoV-2* / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2* / pathogenicity
  • United States / epidemiology