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Fauci: Still time to prevent mutant virus strains from becoming dominant

Fauci: Still time to prevent mutant virus strains from becoming dominant
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Anthony FauciAnthony Fauci Fauci believes Johnson & Johnson vaccine will get back on track 'quickly' Maxine Waters cuts off Jim Jordan, Fauci sparring at hearing: 'Shut your mouth' Pfizer CEO: Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine 'likely' needed within 1 year MORE, the nation's leading infectious diseases doctor, on Wednesday said there is still time to prevent new variants of the coronavirus from becoming the dominant strain in the United States. 

"One of the ways you prevent the further evolution of virus to become mutational, the way you do that is to suppress the replication of the virus," Fauci said in an appearance on NBC's "Today" show. 

That approach is twofold, Fauci said. 

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"One, continue to double down on the public health measures to prevent spread from person to person and get as many people as you possibly can," he said. "The more people you have that are protected the less opportunity you give to the virus to mutate. It can't mutate if it doesn't replicate. So the more you suppress it, the less it does."

Host Savannah Guthrie then asked Fauci who is winning the "race between virus and vaccine."

"We sill have a demand [for vaccine] that far exceeds the supply," Fauci replied.

 

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A number of variants of the coronavirus have been reported in states across the country in recent days and they are believed to be more contagious than the original strain. 

Public health experts remain optimistic, however, that approved coronavirus vaccines such as those made by drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer are effective against newer strains of the virus. 

Fauci said if the virus is able to spread itself more rapidly through the passage of nonvaccinated people, an upgrade or enhancement to current vaccines may need to be made in the weeks and months to come.

“The mutants are here in the United States. They are not dominant yet. We can prevent them from becoming dominant by trying to suppress the replication," Fauci said. "But if they do become the dominant we may need to upgrade the vaccine. That's the direction we're going in right now." 

Public health experts have said the best way to prevent the spread and mutation of the coronavirus is to practice social distancing, regular hand washing and wear a mask when out in public. 

President BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE has urged all Americans to get vaccinated as soon as a shot is available to them and has projected a goal of 100 million shots in the arms of citizens during his first 100 days in office.  

Several states have reported shortfalls in vaccine doses and pressed the federal government for more help in getting being inoculated.