Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, it’s certainly possible the new strain of the lethal COVID-19, virus originally discovered in the United Kingdom, is already present in the US.,

“When you have this amount of spread within a place like the UK, you really need to assume that it’s here already. It certainly is not the dominant strain, but I would certainly not be surprised at all if it is already here,” Fauci told  ABC’s “Good Morning America”

In a statement Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggested that the new COVID-19 strain could be circulating in the US.

“Ongoing travel between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the high prevalence of this variant among current UK infections, increase the likelihood of importation. Given the small fraction of US infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without having been detected,” the CDC said.

According to the CDC, scientists are currently studying whether COVID-19 mutations may make testing less effective. In addition, there is concern that mutations could decrease the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments, which use laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s capability to fight off viruses. The agency also mentions the possibility that multiple mutations to the spike protein of the virus might make it more resistant to vaccines.

Several nations and territories have already banned flights from the UK over fears regarding the new strain. They include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, India, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Jordan and Hong Kong.