New Covid strains ‘may even escape the immune response,’ says Biden Covid advisor

Health, Fitness & Food

A member of the Biden-Harris Transition Covid Advisory Board warned about the highly transmissible new Covid variants and vaccine resistance during a Thursday evening interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.”

“They’re more virulent, can cause more death, and some of them may even escape the immune response, whether it’s natural or from the vaccine,” said Dr. Celine Gounder. “So it’s really important right now that we do everything possible to preserve the vaccines to make sure they keep working and that means preventing the spread of these new variants.”

Three highly contagious mutations of Covid have been detected in at least 33 states across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers say these highly transmissible variants could prolong the pandemic and potentially create another surge. Projections out of the CDC even predict the U.K. variant to be the dominant variant in the U.S. by March. 

Gounder, an epidemiologist at NYU, told host Shepard Smith that she’s “concerned” that people will let their guards down in March and that it could potentially lead to another surge. 

“That’s a time when you might have some families taking spring break, so you would have the additive effect of, again, a holiday where people might be socializing, not taking all the safety measures, on top of this far more contagious variant,” warned Gounder. 

Johnson & Johnson announced that it filed emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its coronavirus vaccine. Last week it released data showing it was about 66% effective in protecting against the virus.

If J&J’s application is approved, it would be the third vaccine in the arsenal authorized for emergency use in the U.S. behind vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Unlike the other two shots, however, the J&J vaccine only requires one shot and requires basic refrigeration for storage. 

Gounder emphasized, that despite promising vaccine data, it’s not time for people to relax masking and social distancing measures. 

“Until everybody who wants to get vaccinated can be vaccinated, we really do need to double down on the masking, the social distancing, all of the measures we’ve been talking about for months now,” Gounder said.

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