(PoliticalLookout.com)- A new mutation of COVID-19 has been spreading in the UK recently. On Monday, the coronavirus testing czar at the White House said that mutation is “likely” already in the United States.
While he stressed there isn’t any evidence of the mutation’s presence in the U.S., Admiral Brett Giroir said many officials suspect it’s made the jump from the UK to North America, even though there are travel restrictions still in place.
On “Good Morning America,” Giroir said:
“We don’t have proof that it’s here, but we do suspect that it is likely here, given the global interconnectedness. We have no evidence that it’s here. It’s certainly not widespread here, but we need to look and make sure it’s not here.
“And we still believe — don’t have absolute proof — but we have very good evidence and a good belief that the vaccines will still be effective.”
That’s the real key to the future outlook of this new strain of the virus. If the recently-approved COVID-19 vaccines work against the mutation, then there is no problem, really. If they don’t, then it’s back to the drawing board, basically.
It’s believed that the new strain spreads much faster, but there’s also “no evidence that it is more serious” than the original version that has been the cause of so much trouble, grief and suffering, Giroir said.
On Sunday, Scott Gottlieb, the former chief of the Food and Drug Administration, said on the CBS program “Face of the Nation” that the strain “is probably here in the United States” in a “reasonable” number of people.
He said of issues with testing that have complicated U.S. efforts to track the variant:
“We don’t sequence a lot of samples in this country, and a lot of that sequencing that does get done gets done in private labs and doesn’t get aggregated into public databases. That needs to be fixed.
“In the UK, they’re sequencing about 10% of all the samples. Here, we’re doing a fraction of 1%.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed that the mutated virus is likely here in America, given all the international travel that happens.
But, as Giroir said:
“We don’t know if it’s here or not. There’s certainly a possibility that it’s here or not. It is not any more serious than the normal strains of COVID. You can still protect yourself by the mitigation measures … we have no evidence to suggest, nor do we believe, that the vaccine would not be effective.”
An academic estimate suggests the new variant could be roughly 70% more transmissible than the original one. It’s too early to say definitively, though.
Health authorities in the UK have said they first detected the variant in September. It wasn’t identified publicly until the middle of December, though. In response, several other countries have imposed travel restrictions on the UK because of the mutated strain.
Most viruses do mutate, but these variants aren’t always more harmful.