By Dennis Thompson
THURSDAY, December 31, 2020 – A new, more infectious variant of the COVID-19 virus has emerged in separate cases in Colorado and California, weeks after it emerged in the UK.
“While the new strain is more transmissible – up to 70% according to recent analysis – the mutation itself has not previously been considered more virulent. [able to cause harm] than current strains circulating in the United States and abroad, “said Dr. Robert Glatter. He is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
There is no evidence the new variant makes people sicker or increases the overall risk of death from COVID-19, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also appears that COVID-19 vaccines should protect against this.
British researchers first detected the new variant in September, and it’s now widespread in London and south-eastern England, according to the CDC.
About 15% of people exposed to someone with the variant eventually become infected, compared with a 10% infection rate associated with standard COVID-19 coronavirus, according to a report by UK public health officials.
But data from the UK has shown the new variant does not appear to have resistance against COVID-19 vaccines being distributed across America, Glatter said.
“The new strain has yet to be found to be more resistant to the recently deployed mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, as well as others. vaccine candidates for Phase 3 trials and not yet granted emergency use authorization, ”said Glatter.
These mRNA vaccines are designed to induce the immune system to produce antibodies against multiple areas of the spike protein, he said. The spike protein, found on the outer surface of the virus, is the primary means by which the virus attaches itself to cells in the body, he explained.
Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, RI, agreed with Glatter.
“There is no evidence so far – and we are still studying it – that it is more lethal,” Jha said. ABC News. “And I’m not at all worried that it’s going to escape the vaccine.”
However, the fact that a new variant has raised its head shows that researchers will need to maintain constant surveillance, to ensure that the coronavirus does not ultimately mutate away from the protection offered by these vaccines, Glatter added.
“We cannot be complacent and must focus our attention on critical mutations by engaging in active genomic surveillance as the pandemic continues to rage in the United States and around the world,” Glatter said. “This may require us to adjust the composition of current vaccines over the next few years.”
The presence of this new variant gives an additional boost to protect yourself and those around you from the spread of the coronavirus, Glatter said.
“With the reality of a strain variety now circulating around the world, the importance of adhering to proven mitigation measures – physical distancing, wearing a mask and hand hygiene – is now more important than ever in reducing transmission, “I told me.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on new variants of COVID-19.
SOURCES: Robert Glatter, MD, emergency physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Public Health England, technical briefing, December 21, 2020; ABC News