Recent data shows that COVID-19 vaccines which are out for supply may not be as effective in shielding the more contagious strains of the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci said.
According to CNBC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House Advisor, said that despite the drugs being less effective against the viral strains, they will still potentially provide enough protection to make the vaccines worth receiving. Fauci also said the dip in the efficiency of the vaccines gives strong evidence for why we should be vaccinating as many people as we can.
The new data, which revealed a slight dip in its effectiveness against the virus mutants, was reviewed while new strains of the coronavirus are circulating worldwide. Some of the virus variants, which emerged from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, have shown more transmission rate compared to the previous forms of the virus.
Experts have already made it clear that viruses mutate after a certain period of time and will continue to undergo mutations in their genetic features. At the same time, researchers are working on resolving the effect of vaccines on these variants.
Some early findings, published in the preprint server bioRxiv, indicate that the variant in South Africa, known as 501Y.V2, can avoid the antibodies produced by some coronavirus treatments and may reduce the efficiency of the current spike-based vaccines. The study found that in nearly half of the cases, the neutralizing antibodies were not effective against the new 501Y.V2 variant.
“We’re following very carefully the one in South Africa, which is a little bit more concerning, but nonetheless not something that we don’t think we can handle,” Dr. Fauci said.
Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were previously found to be 95% effective against the coronavirus infection, which creates a “cushion effect” that would allow for some dip in their effectiveness, as per a CNBC report.
According to Fauci, a dip in the vaccine’s effectiveness would be “all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as you possibly can”. Mutations occur when the virus spreads and replicates itself, which can be suppressed if enough people are vaccinated against the infection to build so-called herd communities, he stated on the issue.
“Bottom line: We’re paying very close attention to it. There are alternative plans if we ever have to modify the vaccine. That’s not something that is a very onerous thing, we can do that given the platforms we have,” Fauci said.
ARTICLE: LIDIYA SHILU
SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH
PHOTO CREDITS: POLITICO