Healthcare

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.

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 Stephanopoulos Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, whom President-elect Joe Biden has nominated to return to the position, said there’s no evidence yet that the British strain is any more dangerous.

“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 Trump issued travel restrictions on Europe and China in the spring, the viral strains from overseas were already present and spreading in the country, undetected.

Tags Britain Coronavirus Donald Trump George Stephanopoulos Joe Biden mutation Travel ban Vaccine Vivek Murthy

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