Findings from a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against a virus variant first detected in Brazil, raising hopes that continuing vaccination efforts will help curb COVID-19.
The variant, known as P.1, has rapidly spread across Brazil since it was first detected there in early January, and it may be capable of reinfecting people who have already recovered from COVID-19, reported The Washington Post.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, P.1 has been detected in 15 people across nine U.S. states.
Public health experts warn that these more transmissible variants could drive another surge in COVID-19 cases, especially as state officials lift restrictions across the United States.
U.S. may achieve vaccine surplus within 2 months
Two months from now, the United States may have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to fill a 55,000-gallon swimming pool.
Approximately 500 million 0.5- or 0.3-milliliter doses are expected to be shipped, reported USA Today. This means the nation could soon shift from vaccine dose scarcity to abundance.
This surplus means greater urgency to convince people to be vaccinated, according to experts. Otherwise, the abundance might become a stagnating surplus that could undermine the nation’s ability to get past the pandemic.
“It’s not a switch that flips, but it’s a sliding scale that happens differently community by community,” Andy Slavitt, senior adviser for the White House COVID-19 Response Team, told USA Today.
“This is not something that will start at some magical day in the future. It has begun today, and it’s something that we have to make sure we’re addressing,” he said.
Crucial that people maintain COVID-19 precautions, expert says
With a safer future just a few months away, it’s crucial that people in the United States keep practicing COVID-19 safety precautions and following health officials’ advice, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, told CNN.
“We’re not done yet, COVID isn’t done with us. The variants are still a risk,” he said. “You don’t declare victory in the third quarter.”
Dr. Chris Murray, the director of University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), told CNN that his team’s projections show “things will slowly but steadily get better. But in our worst scenario, where people stop wearing masks faster, start having gatherings faster, then you can see a surge in April.”
Oregon researchers find new SARS-CoV-2 variant with mutations from other variants
Oregon researchers have reported finding a new SARS-CoV-2 variant that has mutations that appear to be from different strains of the virus.
A person with COVID-19 was found to have a variant of SARS-CoV-2 with mutations that have appeared both in the variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, according to U.S. News and World Reports.
This new variant is concerning officials. They worry it could end up being more infectious than other strains.
Officials say more research needs to be done to understand the risk of new SARS-CoV-2 variants.