CDC offers update on new virus strains: 'no evidence' that these variants cause more severe disease

CDC officials remain confident in the current vaccination plan

Updated: December 31, 2020 - 10:28am

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying that there is no evidence that the two newly detected strains of the novel coronavirus cause a more severe version of the disease or a higher risk of death.

"It is important to know that at this time there is no evidence that either of these variants cause more severe disease or increases the risk of death," Dr. Henry Walke, the incident manager for the CDC's coronavirus response team, said Wednesday.

Walke described the known background details of each new variant.

"The first variant was identified originally in the U.K. and has likely been circulating there since September of 2020, especially in London and Southeast England. The second variant was first identified in South Africa and has been circulating there since October of 2020. This second variant developed independently of the first variant," he said.

Both variants have now been detected in other countries, including the United States. 

Walke suggested that virus mutations are a normal part of disease circulation, "We expect to see new variants emerge over time. Many mutations lead to variants that don't change how the virus infects people. Sometimes, however, variants emerge that can spread more rapidly, like these."

Based on available information, experts believe that current vaccine options will be effective against the two newly identified strains of the coronavirus. The CDC official emphasized that the agency remains confident in the current vaccination plan and is "pushing our same messages that we've been pushing all along," despite the variants' increased ability to spread.