After months of socially distancing and isolation due to the pandemic, news of a new strain of Covid-19 is news no one wants to hear. A new strain of Covid-19 coming from the UK has been detected in a few cases in California.
This new strain was discovered in England before Christmas and has been raising concern in Europe; it is now being questioned whether it should cause alarm here in the US soon after a few cases have been reported. Some health experts share their opinions on why they don’t believe it should.
According to Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid incident manager, in an article published by CNBC, ‘The new variant appears to spread “more easily and quickly than other strains,’ but it does not seem to make people more sick or increase their risk of death.”
He also mentioned that ‘The new variant doesn’t appear to make the vaccines less effective and it also doesn’t appear to make it harder to diagnose with existing tests… The U.K. has also found that people who were already infected with previous strains of Covid-19 don’t seem to get reinfected with this new variant.’
This discovery is good news, as it means that this new variant won’t resist the current vaccines being made by Pfizer and Moderna.
In an interview with LA Times, disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “I don’t think that Californians should feel that this is something odd, this is something that’s expected.” He explained that mutation in the virus is usual and was bound to happen, and that the virus is changing itself to adapt and infect more people. However, he has recently predicted that the daily death toll from Covid-19 in the U.S would continue to rise for weeks to come.
In response to this new outbreak, lockdown measures across England have been reinstituted, which include travel restrictions and the shutting down of many institutions. Several countries have already banned incoming flights from the UK in hopes of reducing the spread of this new strain of Covid-19 after finding that the genetic changes in the new strain could make the virus up to 70% more transmissible.
“The new strain has not shown itself to be more virulent than the conventional version, meaning that people don’t necessarily get sicker,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California health and human services secretary, said. “But the fact that it infects more easily, it seems, is what we are worried about.”
While some professionals say that this isn’t something we should be worrying about this excessively, it is known that this mutation does impact functions in the virus and that this particular mutation does make the virus more infectious and better at transmitting from one person to another.