Just as the coronavirus news was getting good—the vaccines are here!—something worrying happened: variants from the UK and South Africa are here and may be more fatal. “Based on these analyses, it is likely that infection with VOC B.1.1.7″—that’s the UK variant—”is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization and death compared to infection with non-VOC viruses,” said an expert report. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on Meet the Press to discuss how you could stay safe—and issued a “sobering” warning. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus

The UK Variant Appears More Deadly, Says Dr. Fauci

Host George Stephanololus asked Fauci about the UK variant: “What does the science tell you and what do we need to do about it?”

“Well, it’s pretty clear to us what we need to do about it,” answered Fauci. “I mean, there’s the sobering news is that we have a variant that is now in the United States. No doubt. It’s the B.1.1.7 lineage that is dominated in the UK. The UK has studied it. They find out that it transmits more from person to person which really accounted for the big surge that they had in the UK. But recent studies also indicate that it is also a bit more deadly, if you want to use that word, it makes people more sick and it’s more likely to lead to serious complications. The somewhat comforting news is that the vaccine that we are now currently distributing—the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine—clearly work against this variant. And we know that from both in vitro test tube studies, as well as extrapolation from other vaccines.”

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The South African Variant is “Really Quite Sobering,” Says Dr. Fauci

The other variant may prove even more lethal. “The data that we got from South Africa is really quite sobering,” said Dr. Fauci. “The South African isolate, the 3.5.1., that lineage is more problematic than the UK. One in the sense that we know less about it—whether it transmits more readily and not, but we do know that it evades the protection from some of the monoclonal antibodies and it diminishes somewhat the capability and the effectiveness of the vaccine to block it. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it diminishes it by multiple fold. There’s still some cushion left so that the vaccine does provide some protection against it. But the point that you made is interesting, and we need to pay attention to it. In South Africa, they were people who got infected with the original virus recovered and then got reinfected with this new variant to South Africa’s barium, which tells us that prior infection does not protect you against re-infection. At least with this particular variant. Somewhat good news is it looks like the vaccine is better than natural infection in preventing you from getting reinfected with the South African isolate.”

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How to Stay Safe From All Types of COVID

“The best way to get around that and to prevent any serious consequences is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can,” said Dr. Fauci. “And to double down on the public health measures. That masking, that [social] distance, avoiding congregate settings, if you put that together with the vaccine, we can be able to confront this variant as it were and prevent it from taking over.” So follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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