Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Medical experts have been fearing that a new COVID-19 variant would emerge that is even more infectious than the Delta variant, and a new mutation that has emerged in South Africa has some doctors expressing concerns. One of them is 80-year-old expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top White House medical adviser. Fauci discussed this new South African variant, which is called B.1.1.529, during a Friday, November 26 appearance on CNN’s New Day.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told New Day host Brianna Keilar that the variant “has some mutations that are raising some concern, particularly with regard to possible transmissibility increase and possible evasion of immune response.”
Fauci added, “We don’t know that for sure right now. This is really something that’s in motion…. It is something that has emerged in South Africa and seems to be spreading in a reasonably rapid rate.”
Keilar asked Fauci if it is “possible” that the South African variant is “already in the U.S.,” and he responded, “You know, of course, anything is possible. We don’t know that. There’s no indication that is right now.”
A new concerning coronavirus variant identified in South Africa. \n\nDr. Anthony Fauci joins @NewDay\u00a0and says "they are in very active communication" with their South African colleagues....It is a fluid motion. It is something in real time we are learning more and more about."pic.twitter.com/ihioRwTYgZ— Brianna Keilar (@Brianna Keilar) 1637931395
Keilar asked Fauci if it is “possible” that the South African variant is “already in the U.S.,” and he responded, “You know, of course, anything is possible. We don’t know that. There’s no indication that it is right now.”
Fauci added that there have been cases of people who were infected with the South African variant in South Africa and traveled to Botswana or Hong Kong.
The immunologist also noted that medical experts in the U.S. are presently discussing B.1.1.529 with medical experts in South Africa.
“We are in very active communication with our South African colleague scientists,” Fauci told Keilar.
Keilar asked Fauci to address concerns that the B.1.1.529 mutation of COVID-19 could “evade immunity” with “the vaccines that we have.”
Fauci responded, “That’s what we’re going to be looking out for. When you look at a mutation, it can give you a hint or a prediction that it might evade the immune response…. Right now, we’re getting the material together with our South African colleagues.”