Washington: Indian-American Vivek Murthy, US President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Surgeon General, has said that the highly infectious new mutant COVID-19 strain discovered in Britain, does not appear to be any deadlier.
"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," The Hill news website quoted Murthy as saying on NBC News on Sunday.
He added that there was also no proof that COVID-19 vaccines would be less effective against the new strain.
"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 was quoted as further saying.
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.
According to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the new variant was "out of control".
Due to the development, several countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Saudi Arabia, announced restrictions on passenger planes to and from from the UK.