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New Coronavirus Strain Detected in the U.K.

NBC 7 spoke with an infectious-disease specialist at UC San Diego about the new strain and what it means for the U.S.

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A new strain of the virus is causing major concerns overseas. Several countries have banned all trade and travel from the U.K. until more is known about the mutated coronavirus strain that's sweeping through London and several areas of England.

NBC 7 spoke with Saima Aslam, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego, about the new strain and what it means in the U.S.

Aslam said that coronaviruses mutate in a minute way, generally.

“Whatever makes the virus stronger or fitter tends to remain and then kind of propagate in a population,” Aslam said.

The concern, Aslambelieves, is more about the new strain spreading faster and more easily than its predecessor.

So is it here in the U.S.?

“That’s the issue," Aslam said. "We haven’t been looking, and I think this will prompt us to start looking."

Knowing the genetic code found in the U.K. strain will help researchers search for it here.

So far, though, early data shows it is not causing more severe reactions to the virus.

“I think people should not be worried," Aslam said. "I think the vaccines we have are effective, and, you know, if people are getting it over the summer, we have enough time if we need to update these vaccines.”

Pfizer, the maker of one of two vaccines now available in the U.S., stated that a new vaccine could be created in a matter of weeks, if needed.

“I think it’s very doable and able to scale up pretty quickly,” Aslam said.

The first step, Aslam said, is identifying if there is a spread of the mutated strain in the United States.

America's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, believes the new strain has likely already arrived in the U.S. But, he said, there is not enough evidence to advise the White House to enforce additional travel restrictions.

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