The CDC on Tuesday for the first time raised the possibility that travelers could bring a newly identified coronavirus strain from the U.K. to the U.S.
The agency said more research is needed to determine whether the strain is easier to transmit than other versions of the virus, as scientists in Britain have suggested.
“At this time, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death,” the CDC said in a scientific brief on the U.K. strain — known as VUI 202012/01 for “variant under investigation.”
There also is no evidence to suggest that the strain could reduce the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines now authorized for use in the U.S., CDC said.
Most people who have been in the U.K. within the last 14 days are already barred by the CDC from entering the United States; there are exceptions for U.S. citizens and green card holders, among others. But federal officials are already warning of the possibility that the virus is already in the U.S.
“You really need to assume it’s here already,” said Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor, during an interview with “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.