As the various new strains of COVID continue to spread throughout the U.S., White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, is warning that one of them might have the potential to make the situation even worse than expected. Experts have confirmed that the U.K. strain is more transmissible, but Fauci is now suggesting it could also prove to be more deadly. Keep reading for more on the dangers of this mutation, and for more news on the coronavirus strains, These 2 States Are “At Risk of Being Overrun” by the New COVID Strain.
During a Feb. 4 interview on Cuomo Prime Time, host Chris Cuomo pointed out that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky, MD, had said the new variant of the virus could potentially lead to more deaths. Cuomo asked Fauci to weigh in. “That is true,” the White House adviser said. He explained that the U.K. variant is “more efficient in going from person to person, and a recent study from the U.K. showed that it might be somewhat more deadly in the sense of making people sicker and certainly leading to death more.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought up this possibility in a Jan. 22 press briefing, as the BBC reported. “In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant—the variant that was first identified in London and the southeast [of England]—may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson said.
According to the BBC, Public Health England, Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Exeter all assessed the deadliness of the U.K. variant. Their evidence was then examined by scientists from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group. They concluded in a report that “based on these analyses, there is a realistic possibility that infection with VOC B.1.1.7 [the U.K. variant] is associated with an increased risk of death compared to infection with non-VOC viruses [the previously dominant COVID strain].” And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The CDC pointed out that even if the strain is not inherently deadlier, the increased number of cases could result in more deaths. “A higher rate of transmission will lead to more cases, increasing the number of persons overall who need clinical care, exacerbating the burden on an already strained health care system, and resulting in more deaths,” the CDC wrote in a Jan. 15 report. And for signs you need to know, If You Have These 4 Symptoms, You Might Have the New COVID Strain.
Although the U.K. strain is not yet dominant in the U.S., Fauci said it could grow to become the main strain of the virus. In the CDC’s report, they found that the modeled trajectory of the strain showed rapid growth in the early part of the year, which would allow it to become predominant by March—and that could have catastrophic results, as in the U.K. “We don’t want that to become dominant in our own country,” Fauci warned. “It might become dominant because it seems to be very efficient in spreading from person to person.” And for more on the spread of coronavirus, This Is Where You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID, New Study Says.
“The best way to prevent viruses from mutating and developing the kinds of mutations that make them more efficient or more dangerous is to prevent them from spreading from person to person,” Fauci said. He emphasized public health measures and getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible as key to stopping the strain in its tracks.
“Viruses will not mutate if they don’t replicate,” Fauci continued. “So if you put the lid on them and prevent them from going from person to person, you will blunt their capability of mutating.” And for more updates from the infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci Just Issued This New Chilling Warning About COVID.