Fast-moving new strain of coronavirus in UK raising fears

The British government is warning that a new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control.” The strain has triggered a new wave of international travel restrictions, but not involving the United States.

Researchers with Public Health England said the new variant is spreading more rapidly than other viruses because patients have higher viral loads, making them more infectious, the BBC reported.

British health officials said it could be up to 70% more transmissible; however, they said there is no evidence showing that the strain is considered more deadly.

On Sunday, KIRO 7 asked a University of Washington Medicine expert whether the new strain would be resistant to the new vaccines being rolled out.

“The expectation is that it won’t be. We have to keep in mind that there were other mutants that had risen earlier in the year. One that was in October that seemed to dominate in Europe and then more recently we heard the story about a variant that emerged in minks in Denmark, so this is what viruses do,” said Dr. Deborah Fuller with UW Medicine.

Fuller said the biggest concern she has is the increase in transmission, which makes for a challenge when it comes to the race to distribute the vaccines.

“I’m not as concerned about it evading immunity from the vaccine, but I am concerned about how it’s going to impact the spread of this virus before we’re able to induce the levels of herd immunity that we’re going to need through the vaccination to protect people,” Fuller said.

On Sunday evening, KIRO 7 spoke with travelers who passed through London to get to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. One man said, “They did place it under Tier 4 lockdown. The only announcement they told us was if you go there, you’ll be placed under 14-day quarantine unless you were already tested. That was the only information they relayed to passengers.”

The U.S. Surgeon General said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is among the agencies investigating the new strain.