Over the last week alarm has sounded over a new variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the U.K. In an interview with CBS News yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that VUI-202012/01 (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020), isn’t the first nor the last time the virus will undergo a mutation. In fact, there is another mutant COVID strain spreading around South Africa that the CDC is currently monitoring. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
The CDC is “Monitoring the Implication for the U.S.”
According to the CDC, the new variant, dubbed 501Y.V2, was discovered over the weekend and isn’t connected to the U.K. mutation. “On December 18, 2020, the South African government announced that it had also seen the emergence of a new strain in a scenario similar to that in the U.K.,” they wrote on their website. “The South African variant also has the N501Y mutation and several other mutations but emerged completely independently of the U.K. strain and is not related to it.” According to The Daily Mail, the CDC is currently “monitoring the implication for the U.S.”
“Putting our data together with that in the U.K., this [South African] variant is a bit more effective at spreading from person to person and that is not good. It means we have to get a bit better at stopping it,” Dr. Richard Lessells, one of the specialists leading research into the new variant in South Africa, told The Guardian.
“Ours raises a few more concerns for a vaccine [than the U.K. variant] … Another worry is reinfection. We are currently doing the careful, methodical work in the laboratory to answer all the questions we have and that takes time.”
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Dr. Fauci Would Not Be Surprised if the Mutation Was Already Here
Dr. Fauci also acknowledged the new mutation during an interview with PBS, noting that it was likely in America as well. “When you see something that is pretty prevalent in a place like the U.K. — there are also mutations that we’re seeing in South Africa — and given the travel throughout the world, I would not be surprised if it is already here,” he pointed out.
South Africa has recently experienced a surge of cases, which experts believe is due to the new strain. The country’s health minister, Zweli Mkhize, says that the new variant appears to be linked to higher rates of severe illness in younger people.
The South African variant has also been identified in England, according to British Health Secretary Matt Hancock and is asking anyone who visited the country over the last two weeks to quarantine. “This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the U.K.,” he said.
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How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.