COVID-19 variant in UK spreads faster, officials say

Erica Carbajal - Print  | 

Countries across Europe are shutting down travel to Britain in response to news that a COVID-19 variant spreading through the region is more contagious, The New York Times reported Dec. 21. 

Modeling showed the variant to spread 70 percent faster than others, though lab experiments need to be conducted to confirm the estimate, Muge Cevik, MD, an infectious disease expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a scientific adviser to the British government, told the Times. There is currently no indication that the variant is more deadly or that current COVID-19 vaccines will not be effective against it. 

So far, the variant has been detected in Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia, according to The Washington Post. Brett Giroir, MD, HHS health secretary, told ABC's "This Week" he doesn't believe the U.S. needs to ban travel to the U.K. yet, adding that virus mutations are common. 

"We've seen almost 4,000 different mutations among this virus," Dr. Giroir said. "I don't think there should be any reason for alarm right now. We continue to watch." 

"The take-home message for right now is that we need to get more information," Krutika Kuppalli, MD, infectious disease expert at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, told the Post. "In the meantime, we all need to really double down on our public health measures — wearing masks, remaining physically distanced, avoiding crowds of people." 

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Dec. 21
A week of mixed COVID-19 news: 6 takeaways
22 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 21

 

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