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Fauci says vaccines still reasonably effective against new COVID-19 variants

getty: Anthony Fauci

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said on Sunday that Americans should not worry about whether new coronavirus variants such as the one recently discovered in New York can render COVID-19 vaccines ineffective.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci confirmed that researchers have looked at variants against which vaccines are less effective, adding that the effectiveness of the inoculations against those viruses still remains at an acceptable level.

“When you get a variant that diminishes the capability of the vaccine, when you get a good vaccine…you cannot necessarily get the get the best possible response, but it’s still within the cushion of effectiveness,” said Fauci.

Referring to the new COVID-19 variants, including the New York and South African strains, he told CNN: “We need to take them seriously.”

Fauci went on to concur with comments made by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, about the need to keep restrictions in place to ensure that the overall rate of viral transmission in the U.S. continues to drop.

“Whenever we hit a peak and start coming down, understandably you start saying, ‘let’s start pulling back,’ ” said Fauci.

He also said he thinks it is premature to roll back COVID-19 restrictions,  adding: “It is really risky to say, ‘we’re over, we’re on the way out, let’s pull back.'”

Fauci’s comments come as the U.S. continues to roll out COVID-19 vaccines to high-risk groups of Americans and the Food and Drug Administration moved last week to authorized a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, for emergency use.

Some states such as Iowa have moved to cut back on COVID-19 restrictions including relaxing mask mandates in recent weeks. 

Tags Anthony Fauci Rochelle Walensky
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