The fast-spreading new strain of COVID first spotted in the UK has come to the US. A case of the virus mutation was confirmed in Colorado. Now, people are asking if vaccines will still be effective against this new strain.
In a Tweet, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said, “Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. The same variant discovered in the UK. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely.”
70% More Contagious
COVID is already incredibly contagious. Experts say it spreads 10 times faster than flu and is 10 times more likely to kill you. While this new variant doesn’t appear to be more severe than the previous version of COVID, it looks to be way more contagious. UK experts say it is between 50 and 70% more transmissible.
Officials in the UK tightened lockdown restrictions in response to the new mutation. Scientists said the new strain is between 40 and 70% more contagious than the more common form of the virus. COVID-19 is 10 times more contagious than the flu.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ramped up lockdown rules as a result of the announcement. Millions of UK citizens were forced to cancel Christmas plans. Many European countries responded by closing their borders to UK travel. That prompted a rush at airports for people scrambling to get in or out of the country.
The World Health Organization said the new virus mutation has already shown up in the Netherlands, Italy, Iceland, Denmark, and as far away as Australia.
Medical experts discovered another mutation of the virus in South Africa. The Africa CDC said. “Africa CDC is closely following up with authorities in South Africa. The variant was first identified in Nelson Mandela Bay and has rapidly spread through the Eastern and Western Capes, as well as KwaZulu-Nata.”
Will It Affect Vaccine?
The CDC said there is no evidence that the faster-spreading virus is more dangerous and that mutations in viruses are only to be expected. “Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and start infecting people. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.”
Officials from the agency said scientists are currently investigating whether the new mutations of the virus are more dangerous and whether they will affect the effectiveness of vaccines. “There is no evidence that this is occurring, and most experts believe this is unlikely to occur because of the nature of the immune response to the virus.”