White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that some of the new coronavirus variants may be able to resist the current vaccines. Scientists are concerned about the viral strains that have emerged from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil that are more contagious than earlier versions.
One research study conducted by bioRxiv found that the South African variant might not only diminish the efficacy of current vaccines, but can also evade the antibodies supplied by existing coronavirus treatments.
Dr. Fauci said that the UK variant has almost twice the transmissibility of the original “wild type” virus. Due to the higher rate of transmission, the death rate also increases.
“So even though the virus [UK variant], on a one-to-one basis, isn’t more serious, the phenomenon of a more transmissible virus is something that you take seriously… What we likely will be seeing is a diminution in the efficacy of the vaccine — more in South Africa than UK,” Fauci said at a press briefing.
The South African version shares similarities with the Brazilian strain. They both impact the monoclonal antibodies that are used in CCP virus treatments. Despite diminishing vaccine effectiveness, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a high efficacy rate. It will provide a “cushion” that will ensure that the vaccines do have some positive effect on infected people.
Both vaccines are currently being distributed in the U.S. They have an efficacy rate of 95 percent. Fauci said that if 70 to 85 percent of American citizens get vaccinated by summer, there could be some level of normalcy by fall.
The UK government has also warned of the dangers of the South African and Brazilian variants. Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, said that these two strains have features that make them “less susceptible to vaccines.”
Recent research led by the Rockefeller University in New York also reaffirmed the concern that vaccines might become ineffective due to the emergence of new mutated coronaviruses. When they tested the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine against the new variants, the scientists discovered that the antibodies were not working well against the virus. Results were up to three times less effective depending on the strain.
University of Pennsylvania immunology expert E. John Wherry explained that the results do suggest continued risk.
“We don’t want people thinking that the current vaccine is already outdated. That’s absolutely not true… There’s still immunity here … a good level of protection… [but the mutations] do in fact reduce how well our immune response is recognizing the virus,” he told Breitbart.
Dr. Buddy Creech, a vaccine specialist at Vanderbilt University, said that the slower people are vaccinated, the more opportunities the virus will have to mutate. He called the situation “an arms race between the vaccines and the virus.”
The UK’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam raised an additional concern: even if people are vaccinated, it does not mean that they won’t spread the virus. Nobody is sure how vaccines impact the transmission of the virus. He advised people to keep following lockdown rules.