During a week of highs (the Moderna vaccine was approved) and lows (COVID-19 becoming the nation’s third-leading cause of death), one frightening bit of news came from the U.K., where a new, seemingly more transmissible COVID-19 strain led the country to lockdown fully before Christmas. Will the mutation hit American shores? Is it already here? During an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS News Hour, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed what to worry about and how to stay safe—read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Said the New Mutation Might “Spread More Readily”
“It’s something you want to keep an eye out on,” he told Woodruff. “You don’t want to just blow it off. Certainly not. You have to understand, though Judy, that this coronavirus is an RNA virus. That’s the makeup, the genetic makeup, and these types of viruses tend to mutate a lot. Most of the mutations have no functional relevance. This one has a suggestion that it might allow the virus to spread more readily.”
Dr. Fauci Said That Doesn’t Mean the New Strain is More Deadly
As for that spreading readily, “we’re still seeking out evidence to prove or disprove that, but let’s make an assumption that it is, in fact, making the virus more transmissible—even though it hasn’t been proven yet, it doesn’t seem at all to have any impact on the virulence or what we call the deadliness of the virus. Doesn’t make people more sick and it doesn’t seem to have any impact on the protective nature of the vaccines that we’re currently using. So it’s something you take seriously, you keep your eye out on it and you do test to determine if there is more functional relevance than we seem to believe that there is.”
Dr. Fauci Assumes the New Mutation is Already in America
“You have to make that assumption. Judy, when you see something that is pretty prevalent in a place like the U.K., they’re also mutations that we’re seeing in South Africa and given the travel throughout the world, I would not be surprised if it’s already here. When we start to look for it, we’re going to find it. Certainly it’s not yet the prevalent one, the way it seems to have assumed that prevalent nature in the U.K., but we’re going to be looking for it right now. And I’m sure sooner or later, we’re going to run into it and find it.”
Dr. Fauci Said a Travel Ban “Might Be Premature”
“It might be premature to do that,” he said. “I don’t think that that kind of a draconian approach is necessary. I think we should seriously consider the possibility of requiring testing of people before they come from the U.K .here. But I don’t think that there’s enough evidence right now to essentially lock down any travel from the U.K., but seriously, to consider the possibility that you might want to require people who are coming here to be tested within a period of time. You know, they’re 24, 36 or 72 hours before they get on a plane to come to the United States.”
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this surge, all the more so now that there may be a more transmissible variant on the loose—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.