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Fauci says U.S. is in 'active communication' with South African scientists to 'get the facts' on new COVID variant

White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. will speak with South African scientists on Friday to "get the facts" on an emergent COVID-19 variant that's prompting a fresh wave of travel restrictions, CNBC reports.

"This is really something that's in motion," Fauci told CNN's New Day. "And we just arranged, right now, a discussion between our scientists and the South African scientists a little bit later in the morning to really get the facts because you're hearing a lot of things back and forth."

The infectious diseases chief said the U.S. is in "very active communication" with South Africa, and working to obtain the variant's molecular makeup so lab testing can begin. 

The so-called B.1.1.529 strain contains "even more mutations than the world's most dominant COVID strain, the highly transmissible delta variant," CNBC reports. Countries like Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Italy have already halted or restricted flights from South Africa in an attempt to limit spread, per The New York Times. The African country's scientists have already warned the variant could show "immune and enhanced transmissibility," writes CNN. The variant has been detected in Belgium, Botswana, and Israel, as well, though Fauci assured viewers there was "no indication" it had reached the U.S. yet.

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