Fauci says the new, fast-spreading UK coronavirus strain is likely already in the US
Dr. Anthony Fauci. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty
Dr. Anthony Fauci told PBS NewsHour on Monday that he thought the new strain of coronavirus circulating in England might already be in the US.
He also said he would advise against introducing a travel ban on the UK because of the burden, as many other countries had already done.
Fauci told CNN "we don't want to overreact" but should "no doubt keep an eye on it".
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Dr. Anthony Fauci said he thinks the new, potentially more infectious strain of coronavirus circulating in the UK may already be found in the US.
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In an interview with PBS NewsHour on Monday, Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said he assumed the new strain identified in the UK is already in the US given international travel.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it was here," said Fauci. "If we start looking for it, we'll find it."
Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, reiterated the assessment in an interview with CNBC, saying that the new strain was "already in the US" and that the virus would continue to mutate until widespread vaccination ended would put pandemic.
An empty Regent Street in London. The UK has imposed new coronavirus restrictions on the new strain of the virus in London and south east England. Xinhua / Han Yan via Getty
Fauci also said he considered banning travelers from the UK "premature", even if several countries had already taken the move.
He told CNN on Monday that the US "should no doubt keep an eye on the new strain" but that "we don't want to overreact".
He said he would advise against suspending flights to the UK if the matter were raised at a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force.
"I don't think such a draconian approach is necessary," Fauci told PBS. "I think we should give serious thought to the possibility of requiring people to be tested before they come here from the UK. But I don't think there is enough evidence at the moment to essentially block travel from the UK."
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London and parts of south-east England came under new restrictions over the weekend after British officials became increasingly concerned about the new strain, which they had tentatively estimated could be up to 70% more transmissible.
At the same time, officials say there is nothing to suggest that the mutated version of the virus causes more serious illness or is more deadly.
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