UK COVID-19 strain may be present in US: White House

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Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health
Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health

Washington [US], December 28 (ANI): Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir on Monday said that a new, faster-spreading strain of coronavirus first found in the United Kingdom is "likely" already present in the U.S., though he cautioned that officials have no evidence of its presence yet.

According to The Hill. Giroir said that authorities suspect that the new virus mutation has already made the jump from the UK to North America despite the US and other countries implementing travel restrictions.

"We don't have proof that it's here, but we do suspect that it is likely here, given the global interconnectedness," Giroir said in an interview with "Good Morning America" as quoted by The Hill. "We have no evidence that it's here. It's certainly not widespread here, but we need to look and make sure it's not here."

"And we still believe -- don't have absolute proof -- but we have very good evidence and a good belief that the vaccines will still be effective," Giroir added.

The comments come in wake of those of former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb, who said that the new strain of COVID-19 is "probably here in the United States" in a "reasonable" number of people.

"We don't sequence a lot of samples in this country, and a lot of that sequencing that does get done gets done in private labs and doesn't get aggregated into public databases. That needs to be fixed," Gottlieb said in an interview.

He added, "In the U.K., they're sequencing about 10 percent of all the samples. Here we're doing a fraction of 1 percent."

Officials in Canada revealed Saturday that they had detected two cases of the new COVID-19 strain.

The U.S. passed 19 million total confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. (ANI)