ACROSS AMERICA — The top U.S. infectious disease expert believes the new coronavirus mutation that has quickly spread across the United Kingdom is likely already in the United States. Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the new strain Monday evening in an interview with PBS NewsHour.
"When you see something that is pretty prevalent in a place like the U.K. — there are also mutations that we're seeing in South Africa — and given the travel throughout the world, I would not be surprised if it is already here," Fauci said during the interview. "When we start to look for it, we're going to find it."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new strain — called B.1.1.7 — has been predicted to be more rapidly transmissible than the current COVID-19. However, there is reportedly no evidence to suggest that the new variant causes more-severe illness or increased risk of death.
During his interview, Fauci added that he "certainly" doesn't believe that the new strain is prevalent in the United States "the way it seems to have assumed that prevalent nature in the U.K. But we're going to be looking for it right now, and I'm sure, sooner or later, we're going to run into it and find it."
Former Food and Drug Administration Chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb echoed Fauci's sentiments during an interview with CNBC in which he warned viewers that the highly contagious, new mutation of COVID-19 found across the pond “is already in the U.S.”
“As the virus continues to spread around the world, we’re going to start to see more of these variants, and that’s why it’s important to get the population vaccinated and snuff out these infections,” Gottlieb told the cable network. “The more infections you have, the more chances that these variants start to propagate.”
While this new COVID-19 strain has emerged in the U.K., Fauci said he thinks a U.K. travel ban “might be premature.”
"I don't think that that kind of a draconian approach is necessary. I think we should seriously consider the possibility of requiring testing of people before they come from the U.K. here," Fauci said. "But I don't think that there is enough evidence right now to essentially lock down any travel from the U.K."
Fauci also said the mutations do not appear to impact the protective nature of the current vaccines being used.