Mutating Virus?: Stay The Course On Mask Wearing, No Reason For Alarm
And it doesn't appear that the vaccines will be any less effective, experts say.
Surgeon General Nominee Says More Contagious Viral Strain In UK Does Not Appear To Be Deadlier
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, whom President-elect Joe Biden has nominated to return to the position, said Sunday that a new, more contagious coronavirus strain reported in the U.K. does not appear to be any deadlier. “This news from the U.K. appears to be about a new strain of the virus that’s more transmissible, more contagious than the virus we’ve seen prior to this,” Murthy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “While it seems to be more transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it.” (Budryk, 12/20)
Testing Czar Says Covid-19 Variant No 'Reason For Alarm'
Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar, said the Department of Health and Human Services will continue to watch a variant strain of coronavirus that’s been reported in Britain in recent weeks. “Viruses mutate,” Giroir said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “We've seen almost 4,000 different mutations among this virus. There is no indication that the mutation right now that they're talking about is overcoming England.” (Bice, 12/20)
US Army Scientists Examine New UK Coronavirus Variant To See If It Might Be Resistant To Vaccine
Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to know in the next few days if there's a concern that the coronavirus vaccines might not work against a mutated variant of the virus that's rapidly spreading in parts of England, according to the institute's top vaccine researcher. While there's always a worry that a vaccine won't work if a virus mutates significantly, the Walter Reed scientists still expect the vaccine will be effective against this new variant, said Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. (Cohen, 12/20)
Are New Coronavirus Strains Cause For Concern?
Reports from Britain and South Africa of new coronavirus strains that seem to spread more easily are causing alarm, but virus experts say it’s unclear if that’s the case or whether they pose any concern for vaccines or cause more severe disease. Viruses naturally evolve as they move through the population, some more than others. It’s one reason we need a fresh flu shot each year. New variants, or strains, of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been seen almost since it was first detected in China nearly a year ago. (Marchione, 12/21)
New Coronavirus Variant: What Do We Know?
The rapid spread of a new variant of coronavirus has been blamed for the introduction of strict tier four mixing rules for millions of people, harsher restrictions on mixing at Christmas in England, Scotland and Wales, and other countries placing the UK on a travel ban. So how has it gone from being non-existent to the most common form of the virus in parts of England in a matter of months? The government's advisers on new infections have "moderate" confidence that it is more able to transmit than other variants. (Gallagher, 12/20)
The Washington Post:
New Coronavirus Mutation In United Kingdom: What We Know So Far
A flurry of European travel restrictions announced Sunday over worries about a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus have spurred curiosity and concern that the mutation could infect Americans. After officials in the United Kingdom said Saturday that the variant first identified there was spreading 70 percent faster than others, Google searches about the mutation have spiked. But American public health experts and federal officials say that although it appears that the variant may be more contagious, it is not any more dangerous than others already detected in the United States. (Kornfield, 12/20)
The New York Times:
The Coronavirus Is Mutating. What Does That Mean For Us?
Scientists are worried about these variants but not surprised by them. Researchers have recorded thousands of tiny modifications in the genetic material of the coronavirus as it has hopscotched across the world. Some variants become more common in a population simply by luck, not because the changes somehow supercharge the virus. But as it becomes more difficult for the pathogen to survive — because of vaccinations and growing immunity in human populations — researchers also expect the virus to gain useful mutations enabling it to spread more easily or to escape detection by the immune system. (Mandavilli, 12/20)