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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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.”

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

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