Scientists say UK variant ‘likely’ more deadly than first thought. Homegrown variants on rise

Rutgers expert believes loosening restrictions is premature given variants are spreading and that many states have not achieved ‘herd immunity’

New studies have found that homegrown variants of the coronavirus are on the rise, with seven in the U.S. so far. Researchers are also learning that the variant first found in the U.K. is not only more contagious, as first thought, but also likely more deadly.

Dr. Stanley Weiss, a professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, says U.K. officials initially announced variants were more transmissible and could spread among and infect younger people. What they did not expect was the high death toll, so officials are now warning that new variants can be deadly and easily transmissible.

COVID-19 variants can be foreign but also homegrown, and Weiss is advising people to take precautions and get vaccinated.

“It’s extremely important for people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, with a full set of doses,” said Weiss. “That will help mitigate the spread by decreasing the number of people susceptible, by decreasing how many people were infected actively with the virus and hence the possibility for the virus to mutate.”

Weiss believes loosening restrictions is premature considering variants are spreading and that many states have not achieved “herd immunity.”

“There are well over a hundred countries which have not received any vaccine whatsoever,” said Weiss. “So everything we can do to get some vaccine that has some efficacy to those countries is important.”

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