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Fauci: Mutant coronavirus strain must be taken 'very seriously'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Ex-Trump doctor turned GOP lawmaker wants Biden to take cognitive test MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, on Sunday said people should take the more contagious strain of the coronavirus that has emerged in southeastern England “very seriously.”

Fauci, who has discouraged outright barring flights from the United Kingdom, said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” that U.S. officials were right to require proof of negative coronavirus tests for anyone entering the country from Britain.

Public health officials are examining the new strain “very intensively now,” including questions such as, “Does it make someone more ill? Is it more serious virus in the sense of virulence? And the answer is, it doesn’t appear to be that way.”

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Fauci added that while their British counterparts have expressed confidence that existing vaccines will be equally effective against the new strain, “we’re going to be doing the studies ourselves,” according to the AP.

“We're getting isolates of it, making combination of viruses, to be able to directly test, getting sera from people who we have vaccinated, and see if it still neutralizes this new strain, this mutant strain that's coming from the U.K., as well as from South Africa,” he added. “There's a similar, but not entirely the same type of mutation that we're seeing in South Africa.”

Fauci declined to answer whether it was a mistake not to require negative tests from British travelers earlier, telling CNN’s Dana BashDana BashPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Ocasio-Cortez: 'Old way of politics' influences Manchin's thinking Ocasio-Cortez: Senate Democrats 'blocking crucial items in a Democratic agenda' MORE, “Obviously, I think the move to put some form of restriction on travel — and restriction could either be blocking out travel completely, which the decision was made not to do that.”

“But I think it's prudent and a good idea to do some form of testing, and not let somebody on the plane from the U.K. unless they have a documented negative COVID-19 test,” he added.