Fauci warns UK COVID-19 strain could ‘cause more damage’

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Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that new data suggests that the strain of COVID-19 that first emerged in the United Kingdom could be deadlier.

“We need to assume now what has been circulating in the UK does have an increase in virulence, meaning the power of the virus to cause more damage, including death,” Fauci told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”

Fauci said that British officials initially indicated that the new variant wasn’t more lethal, but have now reversed course following a study that suggested it was around 30 percent more deadly in older adults.

The average death rate among 60-year-olds in the UK had been about 10 per 10,000.

But with the new strain, there had been around 13 or 14 deaths in the same population, USA Today reported.

“We want to look at the data ourselves, but we have every reason to believe them. They’re a very competent group,” Fauci said.

The UK strain has been confirmed in at least 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fauci said that the available COVID-19 vaccines appear to still be effective against the variant, though he admits that there may be a “very minor diminution” in protection.

“The cushion that you have of efficacy is so large that it’s not going to negatively impact,” Fauci said.

But he said it’s a “little more concerning” when it comes to another new strain that was first detected in South Africa — which appears to be more resistant to the vaccine.

“It looks like it does diminish more so the efficacy of the vaccine, but we’re still within that cushion level of the vaccines being advantageous against these mutants,” Fauci said.

“Having said that, we are going to look at this and follow this very carefully because these things do evolve. What we will do and are doing is making preparations for the possibility that… down the line, we may need to modify and upgrade the vaccines,” he added.

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