US President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has said that the highly infectious new mutant Covid-19 strain discovered in Britain, does not appear to be any deadlier.

Indian-American DrVivek Murthy, who served under Obama administration as Surgeon-General, will co-chair the coronavirus task force with David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, that US President-elect Joe Biden has formed as his first core policy step towards fighting the pandemic. 

"While it seems to be more transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it," Murthy told NBC News on Sunday. He further ruled out that  Covid-19 vaccines would be less effective against the new strain.

Vivek Murthy
Vivek MurthyWikimedia

"The bottom line is if you're at home and you're hearing this news, it does not change what we do in terms of precautions as individuals that can reduce the spread of this virus. It turns out that masking, that keeping physical distance, washing our hands, these are still the pillars of preventing Covid-19 transmission," Murthy said, brushing aside fears of rapid spread of the new strain. 

On December 19, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of the mutant virus strain which has quickly spread across London and the southeast of England. By the week ending December 9, the new variant accounted for 62 per cent in London, 59 per cent in eastern England, and 43 per cent in the South East.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has informed that the new variant was "out of control," sending the neighbours in Europe and several other countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, India and Saudi Arabia, to ban passenger airlines to and from the UK.

Moderna vaccine works on new strain

Both Pfizer and Moderna biotech companies said that they are testing their coronavirus vaccines against the new mutated strain of Covdi-19 found in UK and other countries. "Based on the data to date, we expect that the Moderna vaccine-induced immunity would be protective against the variants recently described in the UK," said Moderna in a statement. However, it might take a few weeks to confirm the result.

Even Pfizer said that it is working on generating data on how the blood samples from people immunised with its vaccine "may be able to neutralise the new strain from the UK."