Dec 20, 2020 - Health

U.S. surgeon general: No evidence that U.K.'s new COVID-19 strain will affect vaccinations

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday there are "no indications" that a new strain of COVID-19, said to be identified in England, will slow U.S. vaccination efforts.

Driving the news: Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium have announced plans to restrict travel from the U.K. due to concerns over the new variant, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "may be up to 70% more transmissible" than the original version of the disease.

  • Johnson also said there's "considerable uncertainty" on details of the new strain, which the U.K. and World Health Organization have both said they identified.

The big picture: "Right now, we have no indications that it is going to hurt our ability to continue vaccinating people or that it is any more dangerous or deadly than the strains that are currently out there and that we know about," Adams said

  • Adams added that the same routines that have been shown to prevent the virus from spreading — such as washing hands, keeping household gatherings small, social distancing and wearing a mask — are still the most effective mitigation efforts as Americans wait to get vaccinated, even if this mutation is more contagious.

Of note: Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 task force and his nominee to take on the role again, shared Adam's view on Sunday that the mutation does not yet appear to affect coronavirus vaccinations.

  • “This news from the U.K. is that they have a strain of the virus that according to the U.K. appears to be more transmissible, more contagious than the virus that we’ve seen circulating prior to this,” Murthy told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
  • “While it seems to be more easily transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it.”
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