Dr. Fauci stresses need for rapid vaccination to curb COVID-19 variants

During a recent White House press briefing, Dr. Fauci discussed the ongoing pandemic and COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Among other things, he addressed the COVID-19 variants that have appeared in the US following identification in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, stating that rapid vaccination is the best way to protect against new virus variants.

Joining Dr. Fauci during the press briefing was CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who said that the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom has now been confirmed in 29 states throughout the US. Likewise, the variants found in Brazil and South Africa — both described as highly contagious — have also been found in the US.

Walensky stressed that preventative measures are necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, emphasizing the need to avoid poorly ventilated places, to socially distance, and to wear masks. Dr. Fauci joined her in detailing the variants and their risk, stating cases caused by these mutants will soon outnumber the cases caused by the initial strain.

Dr. Fauci explained that the virus 'has a playing field to mutate,' but that it can only do so if it is allowed to replicate — which is why getting the vaccination is important. He went on to state, "The fact is that when you have a virus that has the ability to transmit more efficiently than the wild type in the community, sooner or later by pure viral dynamics itself it will become more dominant than the wild type."

What can we do to prevent this outcome? Dr. Fauci says the best option to safeguard against new variants is to vaccinate 'as many people as we can, as quickly as we can.' Beyond that, the CDC's director Walensky called for every COVID-19 case to be treated as if it is a variant, stating that by the time a new case is identified and sequenced, 'our opportunity to doing real case control and contact tracing is largely gone.'