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New, contagious coronavirus variant could worsen pandemic, CDC warns
(CNN)New, more contagious variants of the coronavirus will likely accelerate the spread of the virus and that means the US must double down on efforts to protect people, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

A variant first identified in Britain known as B.1.1.7 is being found in the US as well, and modeling indicates it could worsen the already terrible spread of the virus across the country, the CDC researchers said.

That means people need to try harder to wear masks, avoid gatherings and stay socially distant from one another.

"It means that it is going to be harder and harder to control it. Any of those measures we are going to have to do to a higher degree, including vaccination," Dr. Gregory Armstrong, who directs the Office of Advanced Molecular Detection at CDC's respiratory diseases division, told CNN.

"Multiple lines of evidence indicate that B.1.1.7 is more efficiently transmitted than are other SARS-CoV-2 variants," Armstrong and colleagues wrote in the agency's weekly report, the MMWR.

"Variant B.1.1.7 has the potential to increase the U.S. pandemic trajectory in the coming months."

Efforts to vaccinate people -- already slower than the federal government hoped for and promised -- need to be stepped up, CDC said.

"Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public," the researchers wrote.

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