Weeks after the global press focused on a coronavirus variation that was theorized to be “more infections,” Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported that its researchers detected a new variant in four travelers arriving from Brazil.

This coronavirus has mutations in common with those of concern for increased infectivity.

However, at this time any information about the new variant is limited to its genetic makeup, the NIID said. The institute added it is difficult to immediately determine how infectious the new strain is and the effectiveness of vaccines against it.

The World Health Organization has been contacted by CNBC to confirm whether it has been informed about the new mutant strain of the virus. The United Nations health agency was not immediately available to respond on Monday morning.

Fortunately, new evidence suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will likely be effective against the modified coronavirus detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and any of the other new ones likely to appear.

Both of the variants contain a mutation within the spike protein, called the N501Y mutation, that’s thought to improve the virus’s ability to bind to our cells, making it more infectious.

In a new study conducted by scientists from Pfizer and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the Pfizer vaccine proved to be effective on strains with the N501Y mutation.

The variant first detected in South Africa contains other mutations within the spike protein, which raises concern these mutations could undermine the vaccines.

However, infectious disease experts remain confident that the vaccines will work against these variants and new ones that come our way.

Yet, Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci has just taken a new opportunity to gin-up more fear about the U.S. is actually being hit with its own “Super-COVID”.

Dr Anthony Fauci said it is a ‘possibility’ that a homegrown variant of the coronavirus is fueling a spike in cases across the U.S.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert said the rise in cases in America looks similar to the rise in the U.K., where the new strain was first detected

‘It could be – a possibility – that we have our own mutant that’s being more easily transmissible,’ Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post on Monday.

‘We don’t know. We’re looking for it…If you look at the slope of our curve, which is very steep, it looks a bit like the curve in the UK.’

I have to give Dr. Fauci credit for being consistent: Consistently creating chaos and fear in his role as a public health official.

In other news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it will require all international travelers coming into the US to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The order will go into effect on January 26.

The CDC order for universal testing of passengers, including U.S. citizens returning from abroad, comes weeks after the Trump administration imposed a testing requirement for travelers from the U.K. over concerns about a more infectious strain of the virus that was detected there. Since then, the new strain has been found elsewhere in the world, and its presence in the U.S. has been confirmed.

Travelers arriving on international flights to the U.S. will need to get tested within three days of flying, and airlines will be required to deny boarding to anyone without documentation of a negative test, the CDC said. The order exempts airline crew, along with military personnel and passengers under 2 years old.

 

 
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