Fauci says US ‘learns more and more’ about Covid variant as other countries assess travel – .

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Fauci says US ‘learns more and more’ about Covid variant as other countries assess travel – .


As the world scrambles to ward off the threat of a new variant of Covid-19, White House pandemic adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has said it is too early to make conclusive judgments on severity virus.
Asked CNN if there was any sign that the variant, which was named the omicron variant by the World Health Organization, was still circulating in the United States, Dr Fauci was agnostic. “Of course, anything is possible, we don’t know that. There is no indication that it is at this time.

As he described it, the American scientific community is “learning more and more” about the mutant virus, which is spreading rapidly in South Africa. Cases of the new variant have so far been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

It is believed that the pathogen developed in an immunocompromised individual whose immune system was unable to purge itself of the virus, allowing it to mutate repeatedly before spreading to someone else.

The resulting variant is a matter of extreme concern, due to the number of mutations that differentiate it from the original strain, especially on the all-important spike protein that various vaccines are designed to target.

“When you look at a mutation, it can give you a clue or a prediction that it might escape the immune response. What you need to do is get that particular sequence of the virus, put it in a particular form in the lab where you can actually test the different antibodies. So you can have a prediction that it might escape, or you can actually prove it, ”he said.

“Right now we are bringing the material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could test it directly. So right now you’re kind of talking about a red flag that this might be a problem, but we don’t know; once you test it you’ll know for sure… the answer is we don’t know just yet, but we’ll find out for sure.

While it is expected to take up to eight weeks to develop a full picture of the implications of the variant, events move rapidly. Belgium confirmed the first case in Europe just after South Africa identified the new variant, and the European Commission has now proposed that all EU member states suspend travel from countries where it has been. detected.

For his part, Dr Fauci was open to the idea that restrictions will be needed depending on what is discovered about the capabilities of the variant in the coming weeks.

“Obviously, as soon as we have more information, we will make a decision as quickly as possible,” he said. “You always put these things on the table, but you don’t want to say you’re going to do it until you have a scientific reason to do it. This is the reason why we are rushing now to get this scientific data in order to try and make an informed decision about something like this.

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