Reports began surfacing last week that there is a new strain of COVID-19 circulating within the United Kingdom that is even more contagious than the original version. While the new strain is not currently thought to be any more deadly or dangerous than the coronavirus we’ve been dealing with all year, its communicability has world leaders concerned. On Monday, the U.S. will limit travel from Britain in an effort to keep this mutated strain out of the country. The Trump administration announced that anyone traveling from Britain to the U.S. will need a negative COVID test to enter the country.
“Viruses constantly change through mutation, and preliminary analysis in the U.K. suggests that this new variant may be up to 70% more transmissible than previously circulating variants,” the CDC said in a statement on Thursday.
The AP reports that while certain airlines have already instituted the policy, all airlines will now have to verify that incoming passengers from Britain have tested negative for the virus within the last 72 hours. If they can not provide proof of such a result, they will be denied travel to the U.S.
“This new order is consistent with the measures that have been taken so far to increase our ability to detect and contain COVID-19 proactively and aggressively,” said the CDC.
The new strain is much more contagious than the first, but scientists are confident that the vaccines currently being rolled out will still be effective against them.
“I don’t think there has been a single variant that would be resistant to the virus — to the vaccine,” Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a top doctor for Operation Warp Speed, said last week. “We can’t exclude it, but it’s not there now. And this particular variant in the U.K., I think, is very unlikely to have escaped the vaccine immunity.”
The U.S. in conjunction with the pharmaceutical companies have done an amazing job getting the vaccine out to the public – over a million people have already been inoculated – but a new, more contagious strain of the virus could outpace efforts to vaccinate Americans. This is why the Trump administration is right to limit travel from the UK…even if our globally-connected world means that it’s probably already inside the U.S. as we speak.