LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The United States has reported 25 million cases of COVID in the last year and over 400,000 deaths. More alarmingly, the new United Kingdom variant of COVID was recently found in the states and is spreading. The country’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said it could be even deadlier than once thought.
“First, it was felt to not have an increase in virulence, which means it is more likely to make you seriously ill or kill you, we are finding that is not the case,” Fauci said during the World Economic Forum.
In an effort to reduce the risk of new virus variants spreading in the U.S., President Joe Biden is reimposing an entry ban on nearly all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and 26 other European countries. Biden is also issuing a travel ban on South Africa, which could combat a fast-spreading new coronavirus strain.
Dr. Chuck Anderson, Baptist Health Louisville’s chief medical officer, said the restrictions on travel should help.
“I think until we know more definitely,” Anderson said, “from what we have seen in the past on how this has spread so easily.”
The CDC reports the U.K. variant has been found in at least 23 states, including Indiana. Nationally, there has been at least 195 cases.
Anderson said testing for the newest variant is random and across the country more testing needs to happen.
“Our random testing is too little, or we aren’t testing enough to look for it yet,” he said.
Anderson added that though he is concerned about current testing habits for the new strain, the original COVID strain is still at the forefront of his mind.
“I’m still concerned about the original SARS-CoV-2,” he said. “I’m worried about that one. We still have 70 plus patients in our hospital. That one is still infectious all by itself, [and] now you throw in a variant that is more infectious. How are we going to prevent all of them?”
Anderson and Fauci both stated the current COVID-19 vaccines should hold up against the new virus variants, and getting it to people quickly is critical, as is wearing masks and social distancing.