Gov. Cuomo urges hospitals to start testing for UK’s COVID variant
New York hospitals are testing to find out if a new, more contagious form of the coronavirus that's spreading in the UK is in New York.
Some experts say it's probably in the United States already. One specialist's advice is to continue following health guidelines, but not to panic.
"The virus is more infectious, so it can pass on more easily from person to person. That does not mean that it's causing more severe disease," says Dr. Harish Moorjani, infectious disease consultant from Phelps Hospital Northwell Health. Dr. Moorjani says the strain is more contagious because the so-called spike protein on the surface of the virus has an increased ability to latch onto human cells.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that his team has partnered with Wadsworth Laboratory and six hospitals across the state so far to obtain samples of the virus.
He says Wadsworth has already looked at more than 3,700 virus sequences in New York and has not found the UK variant in any of them.
The CDC says this strain hasn't been found in the United States through virus sequencing yet.
However, only 51,000 of the 17 million cases in the United States have been analyzed.
The CDC says ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, and an increasing numbers of cases in the UK, increase the likelihood of it making its way to the U.S.
Both BioNTech and Pfizer and Moderna are looking into whether their vaccines will work on this variant.
Experts are confident they will, but they should have data to share in a couple of weeks.