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White House testing czar: Coronavirus vaccines 'effective' against new strains

White House testing czar: Coronavirus vaccines 'effective' against new strains
© AP/Pool

Vaccines are effective against many variants of the coronavirus, and the public shouldn't be worried about it "mutating," the Trump administration's top testing official said Monday.

"We have every reason to believe that the vaccine will be effective against any variant that we've seen, including the new variant in the U.K.,” Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said on CNN's "New Day."

Giroir was referencing a new variant of the virus that is now circulating in England. Officials there are sounding the alarm over the possibility of a highly contagious form of the virus, and European countries are imposing travel restrictions as a way to try and stop the virus from spreading.

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But scientists have been pointing out that human behavior is the primary reason the virus has spread so quickly, and why cases continue to increase across the world, particularly in the U.S. 

Like all viruses, scientists over the past few months have recorded tiny changes to the genetic material that makes up the coronavirus as it appeared in different parts of the world.

Experts also say the novel coronavirus also does not mutate as much as influenza, meaning it is less likely that a vaccine would need to be developed every year.

Experts have said that while it's important to be wary and take it seriously, they don't see any cause for alarm with the news from England.

“I don’t think there should be any reason for alarm right now,” Giroir told George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosHarris: I don't think America is a racist country, but we need to speak truth about history Biden meets with TV anchors ahead of joint address CDC director 'cautiously optimistic' about coronavirus situation in US MORE Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Former Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthySurgeon general: US 'still not doing enough' to address growing mental health crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal Overnight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states MORE, whom President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE has nominated to return to the position, said there's no evidence yet that the British strain is any more dangerous.

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“While it seems to be more transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it," Murthy said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The new coronavirus variant has not been detected in the United States yet, but that isn't a guarantee it hasn't already arrived.

And while guidance from federal agencies discourages traveling to the U.K., the U.S. has not banned travel from there.

“I really don’t believe we need to do that yet,” Giroir said Sunday.

Travel restrictions also have a limited impact. For example, when President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE issued travel restrictions on Europe and China in the spring, the viral strains from overseas were already present and spreading in the country, undetected.