Early introductions and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 in the United States

Cell. 2021 May 13;184(10):2595-2604.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.061. Epub 2021 Apr 3.


The emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, first detected in the United Kingdom, has become a global public health concern because of its increased transmissibility. Over 2,500 COVID-19 cases associated with this variant have been detected in the United States (US) since December 2020, but the extent of establishment is relatively unknown. Using travel, genomic, and diagnostic data, we highlight that the primary ports of entry for B.1.1.7 in the US were in New York, California, and Florida. Furthermore, we found evidence for many independent B.1.1.7 establishments starting in early December 2020, followed by interstate spread by the end of the month. Finally, we project that B.1.1.7 will be the dominant lineage in many states by mid- to late March. Thus, genomic surveillance for B.1.1.7 and other variants urgently needs to be enhanced to better inform the public health response.

Keywords: B.1.1.7; SARS-CoV-2; community transmission; epidemiology; flight volumes; genomic surveillance; introductions; lineage; phylogenetics; variant.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Testing*
  • 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