The variant ofdiscovered in the UK and said to be more contagious has now appeared in California, the state’s governor said Wednesday, a day after .
Speaking with Anthony Fauci in a Facebook Live video, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said one case had been detected Wednesday morning in the southern part of the state. Though the new strain seems to more easily move from one person to another, Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it doesn’t appear to be resistant to the vaccines that’ve been developed.
“It doesn’t seem to evade the protection that’s afforded by the antibodies that are induced by,” Fauci said. “Even though you have one part of the virus that’s changed, it’s very likely that the other components of the vaccine-induced response will protect you.”
Fauci said, however, that public health officials are keeping a close eye on the mutation, called called B.1.1.7. “We’re following this extremely carefully,” he said. “We have isolates from the UK. We’re working on it.”
The new coronavirus strain was first detected in Britain in September and later prompted the country to go into a strict lockdown during the Christmas break, with various countries, including the US, putting stronger entry requirements in place for travelers arriving from the UK. The variant has also appeared in other countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Spain and Japan.
There’s no evidence the variant is any deadlier than previously known strains of the coronavirus or that it makes people any sicker. But a study released last week by a team of UK scientists estimated that it’s 56% more contagious, The New York Times reported. The British government had earlier said the variant might be up to 70% more transmissible.
Theon Tuesday, and a second case was discovered in the same state on Wednesday.
The coronavirus is mutating now because there are so many cases, Fauci explained. “RNA viruses, they make a living out of mutating, they love to mutate,” he said. “It’s replicating a lot, and when you replicate, you mutate.”
Fauci said, though, that this variant doesn’t evade the tests being used to detect infections in people.
“The other thing they’ve noted in the UK is that people who have been infected don’t seem to get re-infected by this,” Fauci added. “Which means the immunity that’s given to you [by recovering from the virus] … is protective against this particular strain.”
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