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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, warned Americans on Friday night about the COVID-19 variants that have been reported in several states. The variant referred to as B.1.1.7, which is now dominant in the United Kingdom, "has the capability of spreading more efficiently from person to person, and it is even more virulent in that it can make you more sick," said Fauci in an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid. "That's the sobering news. The encouraging news is that the vaccines that we have now that we're administering work really well against that variant." Read on for more of his warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
How to Cope With the Variant Era
Epidemiological models show that by the end of March, it may be the dominant strain in this country, he added.
Fauci called the South African variant "a bit more problematic" because it reduces the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies, one of the few treatments available to those who've contracted the virus.
However, the COVID-19 vaccine should still be effective against that variant, said Fauci. "We still have enough capability of the antibodies that are induced by a vaccine to give you some protection, particularly against severe disease," he said. "But we have to keep our eye out, not only on those two variants, but on any variant that might evolve."
More than 1,500 cases of the UK variant have been detected in 42 states. The South African variant has surfaced in seven states so far.
Fauci gave a two-step prescription to Americans for dealing with the variants. "It's complicated, but it's simple," he said. "It's a) you continue to abide by the [public health] measures that we talk about, and b) get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. That's the best protection against this."
COVID-19 cases continue to decline nationwide, but the pandemic's toll is hard to ignore: There have been more than 27.8 million cases of coronavirus in the U.S, and more than 494,000 people have died.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.