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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “very carefully” watching a mutated form of the coronavirus called “delta plus,” the agency’s director said Sunday, as cases of the delta subvariant continue to rise in the United Kingdom.
“We absolutely are following the genomic sequencing of this very carefully,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We have had a handful of cases here in the United States, but it has not taken off as it has in the U.K.”
That subvariant, AY.4.2, makes up just 0.1% of all cases in the U.S., according to the CDC. It’s not yet clear whether it is in fact more transmissible than the delta variant, though AY.4.2 cases in the U.K. have become “increasingly common” in recent months, with early evidence suggesting that its growth rate may be higher than that of delta, according to the U.K. Health Security Agency.
Despite the growth of the variant overseas, Walensky said the CDC is not anticipating that flights from Europe or the U.K. could be stopped. (The travel ban that affects most visitors from these countries will be lifted on Nov. 8 for those who are fully vaccinated.)
“We’re absolutely following the science very, very carefully but we are not anticipating or looking into that right now,” she said.
Walensky called the drop in the U.S. encouraging in a separate interview with “Fox News Sunday,” but added that “we can’t be complacent.”
“I’m encouraged by numbers coming down right now, but I have learned that ... we need to be humble and that the virus tends to find places that are under-vaccinated,” she said. “So as our case numbers come down, we need to continue to do the hard work of getting more and more people vaccinated to prevent exactly what you described.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.