A doctor holds a vial in a steril environment.

A new, highly contagious strain of the coronavirus is on the rise here in the U.S., and it could be on its way to becoming the dominant strain. So Dr. Oz talked to Dr. Ian Lipkin, also known as the Virus Hunter, to find out what you need to know about this strain and how you should protect yourself.

This new strain is called B117 and was detected in the U.K. this past September. In just about a week it was responsible for most of the new cases there.


Lipkin told Dr. Oz that experts anticipated there would be new strains of the coronavirus that better adapted to growing and spreading in humans. While that doesn't necessarily mean they'd be more contagious than previous strains, the likelihood for serious illness does rise with the increase of cases. He said, yes, this new strain is a concern.

B117 has been found in at least eight U.S. states. To help keep it under control, Lipkin said we need to better track the evolution of the virus, which is how it was detected in the U.K.

Testing is also an area of concern, because some tests may not pick up the new strain. Lipkin said that if a test is designed specifically to detect one strain, it won't be able to detect others. However, he said, that's usually only the case with same-day tests. Tests that are sent to laboratories to get results are more likely to be able to detect various strains. Still, Lipkin said, constant overwatch of these tests and the evolution of the virus is key to successfully tracking and containing it.

So how can you protect yourself from this new strain? Lipkin suggests there's no more cause for concern than before and that the new strain is not resistant to quarantine and social distancing measures, as some have suggested.

"The is no magic to this virus," he said. Just because it can spread more easily "doesn't mean it can go through a mask."

"A mask is still useful," he said.

Lipkin added that masks plus the other protocols like better ventilation and social distancing will still be what protects people.

Dr. Oz suggests replacing your masks too. Get increased protection by swapping your fashion masks for N95 or KN95 masks. Where before they were being reserved for frontline workers, there are enough to go around now, Dr. Oz says. And wearing them will provide you better protection against the coronavirus.

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