Fauci confident vaccine companies ready for 'mutant' coronavirus strains

Source: The Hill | January 27, 2021 | Nathaniel Weixel

Federal health agencies are preparing for the possibility that the current COVID-19 vaccines might not be effective against future strains of the coronavirus, Anthony Fauci said Wednesday, but he has confidence that drug companies will be able to quickly change the formula.

Speaking at an event hosted by The Hill, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the federally-authorized vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are effective against multiple strains that have been identified so far.

Fauci noted that monoclonal antibody treatments may not necessarily be as effective, but he is not worried about vaccines.

“We are preparing, in anticipation that the virus will continue to evolve and may get to the point where it crosses the threshold that our vaccine is no longer effective as we want it to be,” Fauci said. 

“We don’t want it to happen. We hope it doesn’t happen. If it does, we’re already doing what it takes to be able to address that,” Fauci added.

Fauci said he is confident the country has enough supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, especially if President Biden is able to secure an additional 100 million doses from each company, a move the president announced Tuesday.

The calculations do not include Johnson & Johnson, a company Fauci said is “literally on the cusp” of final safety and efficacy trial results.

There are currently three variants of the coronavirus that are concerning experts and health officials; the B.1.1.7 strain, which was discovered in the United Kingdom, B.1.351, which was found in South Africa, and P.1, which has become dominant in Brazil.

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