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NEW YORK CITY — As the race to vaccinate continues across the region, the threat of virus variants from other countries poses a real risk at home. There’s concern New York City has been slow to detect these more-contagious mutations.

Hospitalizations are down across the tri-state in recent weeks following the holiday spike. However, three COVID-19 mutations have arrived in America from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

“Variants remain a great concern and we continue to detect them in the United States with at least 33 jurisdictions reporting 471 variant cases as of January 31. 467 of these cases are now B117 variants first detected in the U.K. and cases of this variant have now been detected in 32 states,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

Two states have reported the B-1351 variant first detected in South Africa. There’s also one case of the P-1 variant in Minnesota, the one first detected in Brazil.

“Viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, which is why he stresses that vaccinations and mitigation measures are so important.

There are questions into whether the city is getting an accurate picture of how widespread these new contagious COVID-19 mutations are – with only a few cases of the U.K. variant reported in the state.

“The safest thing to do is for us to plan on the assumption that there are a lot more cases of these variants than we know about,” said Dr. Jay Varma, a senior health advisor to City Hall.

According to the New York Times, the city is barely testing for the virus variants. Only 1% of daily cases on average were studied last month.

But city scientists at the Pandemic Response Lab are working to put a better plan in place to study ten times that by the end of February, according to Varma.

“We are moving at the – in a very aggressive way to make sure both that we have monitored what’s been going on up until now, but also can increase the level of monitoring to match the urgency of the threat,” he said.

A threat from variants, many experts fear could become the dominant strain before herd immunity is reached.

Dr. Celine Gounder, a NYU Langone infectious disease expert on President Biden’s COVID-19 task force, warned, “I’m not an alarmist, but this is as scared as I have been since the beginning of the pandemic.”