Fauci: 'We need to assume now' that British virus strain can 'cause more damage'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFDA advisory panel scheduled to discuss Merck COVID-19 antiviral pill Feehery: Build back bipartisan Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said recent data reported by the British government suggests a new, more virulent strain of the coronavirus is also more deadly but that U.S. officials need to examine the numbers themselves.

Asked by CBS’s Margaret Brennan about his earlier claims that the strain, while more infectious, was apparently no deadlier, Fauci said, “The data that came out was after they had been saying all along that it did not appear to be more deadly, so that’s where we got that information.”

“When the British investigators looked more closely at the death rate of a certain age group, they found that it was one per thousand ... and then it went up to 1.3 per thousand in a certain group,” Fauci added. “That’s a significant increase. So the most recent data is in accord with what the Brits are saying. We want to look at the data ourselves, but we have every reason to believe them. They’re a very competent group.”

Fauci went on to say Americans “need to assume now that what has been circulating dominantly in the U.K. does have a certain increase in what we call virulence, namely the power of the virus to cause more damage, including death.”

Fauci separately addressed another strain believed to have originated in South Africa, saying that “in some cases [the strain] diminishes the efficacy of the vaccine” but that the vaccine was still generally effective.