COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new strain of the coronavirus has been reported overseas, and health experts believe the new mutation may already be in the U.S.
Like the flu, there are multiple strains of the virus, which is common. According to Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist at Ohio Health, it’s very likely current COVID-19 vaccines will protect against them.
“We use the word mutation but these are really variants of the original virus,” Dr. Gastaldo said. “What we know is the changes do not really change how the virus behaves.”
This variant of the coronavirus is spreading in a handful of other countries, mainly the United Kingdom. Experts at the World Health Organization say that U.K officials estimate the mutation causes an increase in the reproductive rate from 1.1 to 1.5, meaning someone would originally infect 1.1. people now infect 1.5. in that same time period.
But experts say they’re not sure the increased spread is due to the mutated strain or human behavior. Dr. Gastlado says there is still a lot to learn, but mutations of the virus have been recognized since late 2019.
“We don’t know with certainty that we’re seeing more in U.K. that it’s the virus being more transmissible and more contagious,” said Dr. Gastaldo. “It could be that what’s really driving it is what’s happening now on the calendars with people being indoors with the winter holidays.”