Dr. Fauci says Covid vaccines may be simply tailored to new variants as drug makers work on boosters

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press conference in the James S. Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington on Thursday, January 21, 2021.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Pfizer and Moderna’s current Covid-19 vaccines can be easily adapted to new strains of the virus, which drug makers are already working on, said White House Health Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Wednesday.

New strains of the coronavirus have emerged in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, which is a cause for concern among scientists. While it’s no surprise that the virus is mutating, researchers are quick to figure out what the changes could mean for recently developed life-saving vaccines and treatments for the disease.

Some early results that were published on the preprint server bioRxiv and have not yet been peer-reviewed indicate that the variant identified in South Africa, known by scientists as the B.1.351 strain, has been affected by some coronavirus treatments antibodies provided and the effectiveness of the current line of available vaccines. Fauci told CNN in an interview that it was very similar to the new strain in Brazil.

There is some good news, though: the newly developed mRNA technology used to make Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines makes it easier to adapt to the new strains, Fauci said. He added that drug manufacturers are already working on “booster” shots targeting the variant found in South Africa that appears to be more problematic than the others.

“We are already trying to get a step or two ahead of the game so that when we actually have a situation where the South African strain is here – it’s here but it is certainly not dominant so you can really achieve something.” from a protection standpoint, “said Fauci.” You’re going to want a vaccine that works specifically against this strain.

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