Dr. Anthony Fauci says public health officials are taking mutations from COVID-19[feminine] “very seriously”, including a highly contagious strain which has spread to 50 countries and become the main source of infection in the UK as well as “more worrying” strains in Brazil and South Africa.

“You don’t want people to panic,” Fauci told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday morning. “But… people need to realize that there is more than one mutant strain. There is one from the UK that is basically dominated, that’s the one you actually see in the US. There’s another more worrying one in South Africa and Brazil, and we’re all looking at them very, very carefully.

Even though the mutant strains show no signs of being more virulent, increased contagiousness, as documented in the UK strain, leads to more cases, and “the more cases you have, the more hospitalizations you have…the more you go die”. have,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

The important question is whether “this mutation attenuates the impact of the vaccine,” Fauci said. “If that’s the case…then we’re going to have to make some changes.”

A study published last week suggests Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is effective in protecting against British and South African strains. Nearly two dozen US states, including Massachusetts, have reported cases of British strain, according to NBC News.

In Brazil — where 8.4 million people have contracted COVID-19, the third-highest total behind the United States and India — officials are studying a strain first detected by Japanese officials in four travelers Brazilians at the beginning of the month, CNBC reported Friday. Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases says officials are trying to determine how infectious the strain is and whether existing vaccines will still work against it.

The BBC reported on Friday that the Brazilian strain is similar to a South African variant first detected in October and which has now spread to 20 countries. The strain is said to have one of the same mutations as the highly contagious UK strain, and two additional mutations, including one that may prevent antibodies from protecting against the virus.

The UK has banned direct flights and restricted travel from South Africa, and recently banned travel from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde, according to CNBC.

Fauci noted that the release of new data in preparation for emergency use authorization of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca was “weeks away, not months, for sure.” Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc. are currently being administered nationwide.

He also said he was convinced that the President-elect Joe Biden could achieve its goal of vaccinating 100 million people within 100 days of taking office.

“Maybe the silver lining is that when you have a variant that is really very, very different and more contagious, it tells you to do two things: double the public health measures that we talked about, everyone wears a mask, keep distance and avoid gathering places, and when a vaccine becomes available … get the vaccine,” Fauci said. “If we can get an overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, we could be fit and beat even the mutant.”

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