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Mutated viruses like the new coronavirus strain are 'very common'

Health experts said the current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still effective against the newer, more contagious strains spreading across the UK.

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, Va. — There is a new, more contagious, strain of the coronavirus that’s spreading in countries around the world, but doctors say the current coronavirus vaccine is still effective. 

The new strain is infecting people in the UK, other countries in Europe, Japan, and Canada. 

Three Rivers Health District Director Dr. Richard Williams said this new strain is no surprise, as viruses constantly mutate and evolve to try and survive. 

“There’s no question that that strain is more contagious and that’s not terribly surprising," Williams said. "This type of virus undergoes genetic drift continuingly; and evolutionarily pressure would trend toward a virus that is more contagious and can defeat measures like masking and social distancing.” 

Take the flu virus for example – it can “drift” or mutate every year. This is why, every year, you need to get a new flu vaccine.

RELATED: Japan confirms cases of new coronavirus variant

“It’s very common, depending on the virus," Williams said. "Flu viruses do this readily, coronaviruses do this readily.”

The good news, Williams said the current coronavirus vaccine will still work on this new, mutated strain.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a new mRNA science that tells the body how to fight the spiked protein you see on the coronavirus.

“Most authorities believe that the spike proteins of the virus - well, although there are signs of genetic drift - they will remain recognizable to the antibodies that result from the vaccines," Williams explained. "And the vaccines will remain effective.”