Dr. Fauci Just Revealed the "Best Way" to Stop COVID From Mutating
The top infectious disease expert says we can stop new strains from developing.
The fight against COVID-19 has been recently upended by the discovery of many new mutated strains of the novel coronavirus—and as of Jan 25, the Brazilian strain is the latest to cause concern, with the first case discovered in the U.S. coming from Minnesota. But all viruses can be expected to mutate in nature, and the good news is there are certain steps that can be taken to slow or essentially end the cycle before it happens. According to Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical advisor on COVID-19 to President Joe Biden, the very "best way" to stop COVID mutations going forward is by stopping its spread with vaccinations. Read on to see why the top infectious disease expert recommends this course of action most, and for more on how to stay safe, find out why If You Have This in Your Blood, You May Be Safe From COVID, Study Says.
Vaccines can help stop mutations by slowing replication.
The spread of the U.K. strain of COVID to at least 24 states and the arrival of a new strain from Brazil in Minnesota have some experts worried that these highly contagious variants could cause spikes in cases. But during an on-air interview with CNN's Erin Burnett on Jan. 25, Fauci explained that there was a simple solution to the seemingly endless stream of new COVID mutations.
"I think people need to understand: The best way you prevent the evolution of mutants is to suppress the amount of virus that is circulating in the population and the best way to do that is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can," he advised. And for more on where you can get vaccinated, know that You Can Now Get Your COVID Vaccine at Walmart in These 10 States.
Monitoring existing strains is also important.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director went on to explain that continued monitoring of the variants via genomic sequencing is vital to making sure a more virulent strain hasn't appeared. "One of the things you have to do is you have to continue to monitor it," he emphasized. "You have to keep your eye on all of these things, and with regard to genomic surveillance, we're really ratcheting it up. Up until recently, we haven't had a comprehensive genomic surveillance, which the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] CDC is really increasing together with a lot of collaboration with the [National Institutes of Health] NIH, which will give us a better feel for what's circulating in our own country." And for more on where the U.K. strain has been found thus far, check out This Is How Many Cases of the New Strain Are in Your State.
Our current vaccines are still effective against new strains, even if less so.
Fortunately, Fauci says that research so far has produced no evidence that existing immunizations won't protect from the newly arrived mutations, telling Burnett that "if you look at what we know about the U.K. variant, the antibodies that are induced by both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccine seem to be quite effective in blocking that variant."
However, the vaccines seem to be less effective against the South African strain, and likely, the Brazilian strain, which is similar. On Jan. 25, Moderna released the findings of its study on how the U.K. and South African strains would respond to the vaccine. According to the report, Moderna said the antibodies from the vaccine saw a "six-fold reduction" with the South African strain, but "remain above levels that are expected to be protective." And for more on what behavior to cease as COVID mutates, Doctors Want You to Stop Doing This Immediately to Avoid the New COVID Strain.
Booster shots can also help protect against newly emerging variants.
Moderna is currently working on a booster shot that would specifically target the mutations of the South African strain, a strategy Fauci said could work with other future mutations. "The way we're doing [it] with the South African isolate is essentially making a version of the current vaccines by allowing us to perhaps give a boost sometime in the future months from now to be able to cover those mutants," Fauci said. "So you always have to stay a step ahead of the game because the virus continues to mutate." And for an update on where the virus is spreading and slowing, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.