Moncef Slaoui, the chief science adviser for the US government’s COVID-19 vaccine effort, says scientists are still working to confirm whether the virus strain in the United Kingdom spreads more easily.
Although that could be why it has become more prevalent in the UK, Slaoui says in a briefing with reporters Monday that another possible explanation is that “seeding happened in the shadows,” before scientists started looking for it.
Animal studies are needed to confirm that the strain spreads more easily. Slaoui says that process takes several weeks.
In the meantime, he says there is no evidence the variant causes more severe disease or is more deadly. He also says the expectation is that vaccines would still be effective against the virus strain, and that scientists are working to confirm that.