Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that the new variants now found in the United States, originating in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, are expected to persist and outnumber the original COVID-19 strain. He said it was a “wake-up call.”
The U.K. strain has now been found in 29 states.
He stressed that federal health officials and companies developing vaccines will need to be “nimble” in order to produce versions of the vaccine that are directed at whatever mutant is prevalent.
Fauci said that vaccinating as many people as we can, as quickly as we can, is the best defense against the new variants.
Fauci also explained the results of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The vaccine’s efficacy against moderate and severe disease ranged from one country to another: 72% in the US, 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa. This was measured starting one month after the shot.
Johnson & Johnson are expected to apply next week for the emergency use authorization, which could come by late February. Fauci says the vaccine has advantages over the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, in that it is an inexpensive, one dose shot that does not have extraordinary cold storage requirements. This could make it extremely useful in a global capacity.