Dr. Fauci Just Warned of These 2 "More Ominous" COVID Strains
"People need to realize there's more than one strain," he warned.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday that the more contagious U.K. strain of the coronavirus, B.1.1.7., will become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March, Americans started to worry. But according to Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the U.K. variant is not necessarily the new coronavirus strain we should be worried about. During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Jan. 17, Fauci told Chuck Todd, "People need to realize there's more than one mutant strain. There's one from the U.K. that's essentially dominated. That's the one that actually is seen in the United States." Currently, the U.K. strain has been identified in 30 percent of states in the U.S. But that's not the variant causing him concern. Even though they have yet to be identified in the States, "there's another more ominous [strain] that's in South Africa and Brazil," Fauci told Todd. "We're looking at all of them very, very carefully." He explained: "You don't want people to panic. But you have to look at it from certain standpoint." Read on to find out about the strains giving Fauci pause, and as for the B.1.1.7. variant, check out The U.K. COVID Strain Is Now in These 15 States.
Public health officials have been worried about the U.K. variant because it's more transmissible than the current dominant COVID-19 strain in the U.S., spreading up to 50 percent more easily. However, the B.1.351 strain that originated in South Africa may be even more of an issue. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told ITV News earlier this month that the South African variant "seems even more easy to transmit than the new variant we've seen here [in the U.K.]." He added that it will be "harder to deal with than the U.K. variant."
The Brazilian variant, known as P.1, is similar to the South African variant and they have experts worried for the same reason. Both have a large number of mutations in the spike protein, which is where the virus gains entry into cells within the body and where vaccines and treatments are targeted, CNBC points out.
Read on to find out what Fauci wants you to know about the newest COVID strains, and for more signs you could be sick, If You Notice This in Your Mouth, You Could Have COVID, Experts Warn.
Read the original article on Best Life.
The U.K. strain may not cause more severe illness, but it'll still lead to more deaths.
Fauci and other medical experts have explained that the U.K. strain does not cause more severe illness, but that doesn't mean its toll isn't cause for concern. "The Brits have made it very clear that it's more contagious. They say that it isn't more virulent. But, you know, we've got to be careful because the more cases you get, even though on a one-to-one basis it's not more virulent, meaning it doesn't make you more sick or more likely to die, just by numbers alone the more cases you have, the more hospitalizations you're going to have. And the more hospitalizations you have, the more deaths you're going to have," Fauci explained. And for another warning on where the pandemic is headed, check out The CDC Just Issued This Horrifying COVID Warning.
The key question is what effect the new strains have on COVID vaccines.
While Pfizer, one of the companies producing COVID vaccines, has found that their shots are effective against the B.1.1.7. variant, the other strains are more of an issue. John Bell, a professor who led the development of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, told Times Radio that there is a "big question mark" about whether or not the vaccines work against the South African variant. The reason this strain may make the vaccine less effective is because of how much the South African strain has mutated the spike protein. The South African variant is "not a single mutation. … And the mutations associated with the South African form are really pretty substantial changes in the structure of the (virus' spike) protein," Bell said.
In an interview with CBS News recently, Shabir Madhi, PhD, who led the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine trials in South Africa, explained, "It's not a given that the vaccine will not work on this variant, but it is a consideration that the vaccine might not have the full efficacy."
"The thing we really want to look at carefully is does that mutation lessen the impact of the vaccine?" Fauci said on Meet the Press. "And if it does, Chuck, then we're going to have to make some modifications. But we're all over that. We're looking at that really very carefully."
In an interview with Axios on Jan. 7, Fauci previously discussed the possibility of the new strains affecting the vaccine. "If it doesn't impact the vaccine, you're good to go. If it does, you have to make some minor modifications of the vaccine to be able to circumvent the changes that occur in the mutations," he explained. And for more COVID updates sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
To stay safe from the new strains, you need to follow public health measures.
The same public health measures that keep you safe from the current dominant strain and the U.K. strain will also protect you from the South African and Brazilian variants. "When you have a variant that's really very, very different in the sense of it's more contagious, it tells you to do two things: 1) Double down on the public health measures that we've been talking about all the time. Be very compulsive, as the president-elect says, at least for the first 100 days and maybe more, everybody wear a mask, keep the distance, avoid the congregate settings," Fauci said on Meet the Press. And for the face coverings to avoid, check out The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.
And you also need to get vaccinated.
In addition to masking, hand-washing, and social distancing, Fauci says the best thing you can do for yourself is get vaccinated. "The easiest way to evade this negative effect of these new isolates is to… just when the vaccine becomes available, people should get vaccinated," he told Todd on Meet the Press. "Boy, if ever there was a clarion call for people to put aside vaccine hesitancy…"
Fauci said "if we can get, you know, the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, we'd be in very good shape and could beat even the mutant." And for some tips on how to do that safely, know that If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.