The UK and California (CA) are two very different places with different demographics but they are now closely tied as having two of the hottest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. The UK infection rate is currently at 0.73% of its total population over the last 2 weeks, second only to the USA at 0.86%, with CA leading at 1.48%.
Both the UK and CA have instituted masking and stay-at-home orders with varying degrees of compliance and success so it is actually somewhat surprising that these two regions got so hard hit. Masking compliance is 60% and 80% respectively in the UK and CA, and social distancing compliance is -30% and -40% respectively in the UK and CA. This bodes ill for other states and countries that have looser mitigation measures.
The UK’s high infection rate is apparently 80% due to the new variant (B.1.1.7) in the UK that contains the N501Y mutation (also seen in a South Africa variant). While this new variant does not cause more severe illness, it does spread more readily. This new variant has now been detected in 18 countries including the USA. This new variant has now been detected in Colorado but it has probably already spread in several other states. We suspect that many of the new cases in CA are also due to the new variant, although the USA has done very little detailed genetic testing. This deficiency coupled with the US government’s reluctance to enact a rigorous quarantine on UK travel to the USA leaves the USA highly vulnerable to this and future mutations of the SARS-Cov-2 virus and further spread of the disease.