New York City officials said on Thursday that they are investigating possible risks of a new coronavirus variant spreading in the city, but that it did not appear yet to require change in public health response.
“So right now, at least for the report that we hear — we have from Columbia — we need to just consider this a variant of interest, something that’s interesting that we need to follow and track. But it doesn’t change anything about our public health concern. We need more data and studies to understand that. So we are able to detect and track this new strain that’s been reported, and we’ll continue to follow it. We have the ability also to now collect information about those patients, and to understand better whether or not they have different features or outcomes. And through our test and trace score, which is the best performing test and trace score in the country, has the ability to offer. You know, if somebody was infected, did they spread it to other people more often than something else.” “Because I understand when people hear variant it is a cause for concern, of course. And there’s something about it that’s unknown, and that gets people worried. I don’t blame anyone who’s feeling that way. But I want to really take the essence of what Dr. Varma is saying here: Until there’s evidence that tells us that a variant is not handled well by vaccine, for example, or a variant has different impacts, we shouldn’t assume the worst. We should say we need the full truth. We need the facts because so far the experience with the variants has been, even where there’s been some proof of being more transmissible for example, and it’s not changed the reality, it’s not changed the impact of the disease, it’s not changed our ability to fight the disease with the vaccine and all the other measures we take.”