The variant of the coronavirus discovered in the UK has spread to New York, the state’s governor said Monday. The new strain of the is said to be more contagious, and also last week.
The UK variant was found in Saratoga County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted, and in someone with no known recent travel history.
While the new strain appears to be more contagious, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week it doesn’t appear to be resistant tothat have been developed. Fauci said, however, that public health officials are keeping a close eye on the mutation, 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 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.”
The new strain was first detected in the UK in September and later caused the country to go into a strict lockdown over the holidays, with other 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 sicker. But a study released last month by a team of UK scientists estimated that it’s 56% more transmissible, The New York Times reported. The British government had earlier said the variant might be up to 70% more contagious.
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