EXPLAINER: Are new coronavirus strains cause for concern?

California face masks
Posted at 4:11 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 19:11:01-05

(AP) — Researchers are concerned about reports from Britain and South Africa of new coronavirus strains that seem to spread more easily. Scientists say it's unclear if that's true.

And for now, they don't think the new strains cause more severe COVID-19 illness or pose any concern for vaccines.

Viruses naturally evolve as they move through the population. One strain recently detected in England has a lot of changes to the spiky protein that's targeted by current vaccines.

The advice to the public remains the same — wear a mask, wash hands often, and keep social distance to avoid catching and spreading the virus.