UC San Diego infectious disease expert weighs in on new COVID strain growing rapidly in UK

Posted at 10:56 AM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 16:21:42-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As hospitals in San Diego County receive vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, a new concern is surfacing in the United Kingdom.

A new COVID variant is reportedly infecting people rapidly and may be 70% more contagious than COVID-19. The new variant reportedly caused over 60% of infections in London this month alone.

But there is good news, according to UC San Diego infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Schooley.

"It doesn't seem to be any more difficult to neutralize and should be responsive to the vaccines we're using,” Schooley told ABC 10News.

RELATED: Britain hit with several travel bans over new coronavirus strain

Even though there's no evidence yet of the new variant being deadlier than COVID-19, many European countries aren't taking any chances. Some countries have canceled inbound flights from England.

"The one caveat is if this virus accelerates an epidemic and more people are infected around you, your chance of getting infected will be greater with new and old strains, and so this vaccine will have to work harder, and we'll have to get more people vaccinated to have same level of population protection,” Schooley said.

While the U.S. has yet to announce travel bans involving the UK specifically, Schooley said restrictions would certainly help the spread of any virus amid a global pandemic.