PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — News of the COVID-19 variant strain first found in the UK and now in the US is concerning but health officials said it doesn’t seem to be any more serious for those who get it.

Oregon State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger said anytime a virus mutates scientists are concerned. But viruses do this all the time. And even though this strain may be more contagious, it seems the new vaccines will still protect people effectively.

People are “not more likely to be hospitalized or die if it transmits that much more easily,” Sidelinger said. And now many more people get infected, ultimately more people are going to be hospitalized. So I think the same measures that help us control the strain that we’ve been dealing with — keeping our gathering size down, limiting our or keeping our physical distance from others and wearing our masks will help control this other virus as well.”

With the fluidity of travel, Sidelinger said he’s not surprised this strain is now in the United States.

The good news is that scientific research so far indicates the COVID vaccines that are already approved will still protect people from this strain. Social distancing tools still work, too.

While Sidelinger said he’s concerned about the new strain, it’s not keeping him up at night.

“I think the data we have shows that, yeah, this is a new variation. It may be more easily transmissible but we have some tools to find it.”