Fauci 'not surprised' UK variant found in California

"Well governor, first of all, I'm not surprised that you have a case and likely more cases in California and we likely will be seeing reports from other states, Colorado was the first to do that," Fauci said in a virtual conversation with California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.

The highly infectious coronavirus variant originally discovered in Britain has been detected in California, California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday, a day after the first known U.S. case was documented in Colorado.

Newsom announced his state's first known case of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, identified in Southern California, at the start of an online discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic with Fauci.

Video Transcript

GAVIN NEWSOM: Just an hour or so ago, we were informed that this new variant, this new strain that we have identified, obviously, from the United Kingdom, others, some other parts of the globe, identified in Colorado yesterday, has been identified here in the state of California.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, Governor, first of all, I'm not surprised that you have a case, and likely more cases, in California. And we likely will be seeing reports from other states. Colorado was the first to do that. I think you're going to start seeing it. Because if you have that much of a prominence of this in the UK, with all the travel not only directly to the United States, but through other countries intermittently, like where you go from UK to France, France to the United States, et cetera. Then Canada has cases.

So I don't think that the Californians should feel that this is something odd. This is something that's expected. There's a lot we know about it, because our British colleagues have been studying it carefully. And there are things that we will soon learn more about them, in a more definitive way, literally as the days and weeks go by.

So the things you mentioned is that it looks pretty clear, from the UK group, that in fact, the transmissibility of this mutant is more efficient than the transmissibility of stability of the standard virus that we've been dealing with up to now. Namely, it just-- it's able to bind to the receptors on cells better, and therefore is transmitted better. There's no indication at all that it increases the virulence. And by virulence, I mean the ability to make you sick or kill you. It doesn't seem to make it more strong in that regard.

In addition, it doesn't seem to evade the protection that's afforded by the antibodies that are induced by vaccines. The other thing that they've noted in the UK is that people who have been infected don't seem to get infected by this, which means that the immunity that's given to you when you get infected is protective against this particular strain.

The overwhelming majority of mutations are irrelevant. They don't have any impact on any important function of the virus. Every once in a while, you get a mutation that does impact a function of the virus. It appears, from what we learned from the UK, and what will prove here, is that this particular mutation does, in fact, make the virus better at transmitting from one person to another.