New Yorkers should not “despair” over the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant that has emerged in the Empire State, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
The White House chief medical officer said that officials take new variants, such as New York’s B.1.526, “very seriously,” but they believe that the vaccines on the market will still offer considerable protection against them.
“If you get a good vaccine that has a high titer of antibody, you [may] not necessarily get the best possible response, but it’s still within the cushion of effectiveness, which tells us don’t despair about the fact that there are variants there,” Fauci told CNN anchor Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” referring to the vaccine’s antibody concentration.
The New York variant has raised alarm since it shares similarities with a highly-contagious South African strain.
They both feature a mutation known as E484K, which experts fear may somehow be able to get past antibodies to infect people who have already been sick from the virus.
However, studies have shown that available vaccines are still likely to neutralize the virus and protect against severe illness, even for cases with new variants.
“Even when you have variants, the vaccines will be important in spreading and in preventing the spread. You get variants when the virus has sort of like a complete field is going wherever it wants to go because the people are vulnerable,” Fauci said.
“If you prevent that by public health measures and vaccination, you’ll dampen the effect of these variants. And that’s the reason why we keep saying, keep the public health measures out and get as many people vaccinated as you possibly can,” he added.