Asked whether he expected to see U.S. cases spike as fast as they did in the U.K. due to B.1.1.7, Fauci told Newsweek: "The United States already has a lot of problems with the surging of cases over the last several weeks." He said: "It isn't a question of whether the United States cases will surge, they are surging. Whether or not that's due to the U.K. mutation [variant] we don't know."
Jagpreet Chhatwal, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who works on The COVID-19 Simulator forecasting project, said his team's model showed around one in 200 people in the U.S. currently has COVID-19 but there is a "huge variation across states." In California, his model puts the figure at one in 75 people, and one in 200 people in New York.
"If this [one in 50 people infected] has happened in the U.K., there is no reason to believe it can't happen in the US," he said. "I believe it will be due to a combination of both, the new variant [B.1.1.7] as well as how the US has (mis)handled the pandemic."
He went on: "'We already saw a record number of hospitalizations and deaths in December. Sadly, January is expected to be worse than December."