Dr. Fauci Just Said This One Thing Could Potentially Make COVID Worse
The infectious disease expert warns of this "troublesome" development.
The rollout of the COVID vaccines and the latest reports about new cases declining has put many Americans at ease, optimistic that the end of the pandemic is just around the corner. But that may just be wishful thinking, according to the latest from White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD. In a new interview with MSNBC, he warned that there's one thing that could make the COVID situation worse again. Read on to find out what is concerning Fauci and for more from this infectious disease expert, find out why Dr. Fauci Says Doing This After Getting Vaccinated Is a Huge Mistake.
Fauci said new strains could make COVID worse.
During a Jan. 28 interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Fauci said there is good news on the COVID front because cases are "plateauing." According to The New York Times, new COVID cases in the country have gone down by 34 percent over the last two weeks. However, Fauci said that doesn't mean things will necessarily stay this way. "I think it potentially could get worse," he admitted. "The thing that's troublesome now, that we really need to keep our eye on, are these variants." And for more on the new variants, beware that If You Have These 4 Symptoms, You Might Have the New COVID Strain.
He said the most concerning strain is the South African variant.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning about three new prevalent COVID strains: the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), the South African variant (B.1.351), and the Brazilian variant (P.1). The U.K. strain is thus far the most prevalent in the U.S., but Fauci says he's most concerned about one in particular. "The [variant] that is of greater concern and that really could be problematic is the mutant that is now dominant in South Africa," he said.
All three variants appear to be more transmissible than previous strains, but the South African variant may also make the vaccines and treatments less effective. According to vaccine developer Moderna, a recent study showed that the South African strain caused a six-fold reduction in neutralizing antibodies created from their vaccine—which means that the vaccine is still effective against the strain, but a lot less than it would be against other variants. And for more on where the U.K. variant is spreading so far, check out This Is How Many Cases of the New Strain Are in Your State.
Researchers are already developing ways to protect against the new South African strain.
Even though the South African strain may affect the efficacy of the vaccine, Fauci said that the vaccine producers are already working on ways to work around this. "We're already planning and implementing, making a modified version of the vaccine, that would ultimately be able to be directed specifically against the South African isolate, which is the most problematic of them all," he said.
On Jan. 25, Moderna announced that they were developing and testing a potential booster shot for the vaccine. "As we seek to defeat the COVID-19 virus, which has created a worldwide pandemic, we believe it is imperative to be proactive as the virus evolves," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants." And for more up-to-date COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The South African strain was just found in the United States.
Many of the concerns surrounding the South African strain were hypothetical, seeing as the U.S. had not reported any cases of the variant in the country. However, it's officially made its way in. On Jan. 28, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced that they had detected the first two cases of the South African variant reported in the U.S.
"The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over," DHEC Interim Public Health Director Brannon Traxler, MD, said in a statement. "Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together." And for more on what you can do to avoid it, find out why you should Stop Doing This Immediately to Avoid the New COVID Strain, Doctors Warn.