Dr. Fauci Just Issued This New Chilling Warning About COVID

The White House chief medical adviser gave a new warning about the danger of this new COVID strain.

The U.S. closed out 2020 on a grim note when, on Dec. 29, the country reported its first known case of the more contagious strain of COVID from the U.K., known as B.1.1.7. In the month that's followed, that's grown to nearly 500 cases, as of Jan. 31, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over the past week, things have gotten more concerning, with the discovery of cases of two more transmissible strains from Brazil and South Africa in the U.S. But it's the latter that has Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, the most on edge for one very particular reason, he told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The Situation Room on Feb. 1. Read on to find out why the South African strain is presenting a real danger, and for more on the spread of these new variants in the U.S., check out How Many Cases of the New COVID Strains Are in Your State

Fauci said people who've had COVID may not be safe from reinfection of the South African strain.

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During the new interview, Blitzer asked Fauci, "If you've already had COVID, how worried should you be about getting reinfected with one of these new so-called variants?" Fauci answered that the main variant they're looking at in this regard is the South African strain, known as the 501Y.V2 variant.

"The experience of our colleagues in South Africa indicate that even if you've been infected with the original virus, that there is a very high rate of reinfection to the point where previous infection does not seem to protect you against reinfection at least with the South African variant," he admitted. "That's the one that we know the most about when it comes to reinfection." And for more factors that increase your risk of getting seriously sick, check out If You Have This Common Habit, Your COVID Symptoms Will Be Worse.

Fauci singled out the two states where the South African strain has been discovered.

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While Fauci clarified that the South African strain is "certainly not the dominant strain" in any area of the U.S., it is "obviously here," he said. "We know that there have been a couple of cases in South Carolina and one in Maryland."

The first two U.S. cases of the South African variant were found in South Carolina on Jan. 28. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced that the two cases of the new variant had no connection to each other and only one had recent travel history.

The case of the South African strain reported in Maryland on Jan. 30 was an adult in the Baltimore area, Gov. Larry Hogan announced. "The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely," he said. And for more on how to stay safe, check out These 3 Vitamins Could Save You From Severe COVID, Study Finds.

The South African strain is more transmissible.

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In common with the U.K. variant of coronavirus (B.1.1.7), the South African variety does appear to be more transmissible than the current dominant strain of the virus. This increased transmission obviously raises case numbers and increases pressure on hospitals, hence the current vigilance around its spread. And for more regular COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

However, the vaccines will still protect you from the South African strain.

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While research has shown that the current COVID vaccines may be less effective against the South African strain, there is no evidence so far that any of these new strains are completely resistant to the vaccines currently available. As a result, Fauci stressed the importance of Americans getting their doses when they can.

"I really want to emphasize it again, vaccination is very important. We need to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can. And when vaccine becomes available to individuals, please take the vaccine," he told Blitzer. "Even though there is a diminished protection against the variance, there's enough protection to prevent you from getting serious disease, including hospitalization and deaths. So vaccination is critical. When it's available, get vaccinated." And for more on the latest vaccine news, check out If You Live in These States, You Can Now Get Vaccinated at Walmart.

John Quinn
John Quinn is a London-based writer and editor who specializes in lifestyle topics. Read more
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