Britain in lockdown, travel bans after COVID-19 mutation

The mutation is potentially more contagious and is spreading rapidly in the U.K. There is no hard evidence that this variant is more contagious, and scientists said more studies are needed.
4:59 | 12/22/20

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Transcript for Britain in lockdown, travel bans after COVID-19 mutation
the meantime to that alarming new covid mutation seen in the uk and now elsewhere, raising alarm, of course, in the uk, across Europe and now right here in the U.S. Tonight, London on lockdown. Scientists there believe that this variant could and we emphasize could spread up to 70% faster than what we have been seeing with covid. But many scientists around the world tonight are urging caution, saying more study is needed. Still, dozens of countries issuing travel bans from the uk. So, what about flights from the uk into the U.S.? They're still coming in. And what authorities said about those flights today. Here's our senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell from London tonight. Reporter: Tonight, Britain locking down again with more than 40 countries banning travel to and from the uk. This, after a new, potentially more contagious mutation of the virus was confirmed and is spreading rapidly. As soon as we were briefed in the uk government on the fast transmissibility of this new strain, we took prompt and decisive action. Reporter: What has people alarmed is how infectious this version may be. Early estimates indicate that it could be as much as 70% more contagious. The W.H.O. Also seeing an increase in the infection rate. But scientists around the world aren't convinced yet, saying more study is needed. The head of operation warp speed say they are now awaiting more evidence. I think scientifically, to date, there is no hard evidence that this virus is actually more transmissible. Reporter: Planes are still coming into the U.S without government restrictions. The authorities say they haven't found the strain here I believe intuitively, it's already here. Reporter: Tonight, British airways, delta and virgin atlantic just announcing plans to test all passengers heading to America. Governor Andrew Cuomo angry, calling the lack of federal action reprehensible. We have been victimized by federal incompetence and federal negligence. That is a fact. And we're not going to be victimized again. Reporter: Scientists say it's not unusual for viruses to mutate and covid has done this many times before. But the uk also hitting an Al high for cases Sunday. While there may be increased risk for infection, this new variant doesn't appear to be anymore deadly. Tonight, U.S. Authorities saying there's no indication the vaccine isn't effective against the mutated virus. There is also no evidence to suggest nor reason to believe that it would evade our vaccines that we have right now. So far, that's what we know. Ian joining us live from London. And Ian, while those dozens of countries have banned travel to and from the uk, U.S. Health officials said we should hold off on any additional restrictions when it comes to those flights coming into the U.S.? Reporter: Yeah, that's right, David. Stressing that people shouldn't overreact. He's saying he's not criticizing other countries for their move, but he's advising against a similar move by the U.S. And that testing by the airlines is going to start in the coming days. David? All right,pannel, thank you. And many of you have questions about this new variant, this mutation of the virus. So, let's bring in Dr. Ashish jha, Dean of the brown university school of public health. Thank you for being here, as as. We were hoping you could put this in perspective tonight. Do we expect to see these variants, these mutations and what concerns do you have most about this particular one so far? Hi, david.these vary yapts are common. Especially when the pandemic is as bad as it is. All the infections that are happening out there are more opportunities for the virus to mutate. My concern here is about contagiousness. This is good evideat this virus seems more contagious, but not anymore deadly, and that part is reassuring. We'll have to sort this out a bit better. Let's hope that continues to be the case. In everything I read today, it's believed that so far, the vaccines would still be effective against this and that it typically takes a long time for a virus to mutate to actualet around a vaccine? Yeah, this is quite a good vaccine that we have developed and therefore I actually think that we can feel confident that the vaccine will continue to be effective against this virus, this vary yapt. I don't think we're in any danger of this happening where the virus becomes resistant to the vaccine. How long does it usually a year or years of mutations to get around a vaccine? It does depend on the type of virus. For a coronavirus like this, I would suspect it's probably a year or longer. We're fog to have to monitor this closely. We've never had a coronavirus outbreak this big. I'm confident the vaccines will continue to work for us. We appreciate the reassurance tonight. Dr. Jha, thank you.

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