LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Health experts are informing the public about a new strain of the coronavirus, but are also providing information that the same precautions in place should still keep Americans protected.
“There is always that fear that we may be one step behind the virus when it mutates,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Suman Radhakrishna.
The mutated strain of coronavirus was first detected in the United Kingdom, prompting the U.S. to require travelers from the U.K. to show a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before departure.
While the strain has proven to be more infectious, doctors say, there is no evidence that it is more deadly.
“It seems to be more contagious but it turns out the severity of the disease someone who gets it, it’s about the same in the sense that people who are older, people who have a comorbidity, obesity, asthma, diabetes, are at higher risk of needing oxygen, going to the hospital and dying,” Radhakrishna said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said there are no confirmed cases of the mutated strain in the state, but L.A. County has begun testing for it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we found some of these strains shortly,” Radhakrishna said.
The CDC is reporting more than one million people have already received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Dr. Radhakrishna said that although the news of a new strain might worry Americans, the existing vaccine is expected to protect against it as well.
“It did not seem to impact that spike protein, which is where the vaccine is supposed to work and make antibodies. So when the antibodies come against the spike protein, it doesn’t dock into the cell and that prevents the infection from happening. That does not seem to have changed much,” Radhakrishna said.
The best way to stay protected from the new strain remains the same as other pandemic measures Americans have been urged to take over the past 10 months, including wearing a face covering, keeping your distance and washing your hands often.