Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday that she is concerned about the virus’ variants and said the recent ground the country made in combating the disease could be lost.
She pointed to the 70,000 new cases in the country that were recorded the last week of February and noted the 2,000 deaths. The BBC reported that she called the numbers “very high,” and if you incorporate the potential of new cases from these variants, “we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”
“We certainly are taking the New York variant, the 526 [referring to B.1.526] very seriously,” Fauci said during a White House briefing, later adding, “We have to really keep an eye on that for its ability to evade both monoclonal antibodies and to a certain extent, the vaccine-induced antibodies, so it’s something we take very, very seriously.”
The New York Times reported last week that researchers at Caltech and Columbia University studied the mutation, called B.1.526. One scientist told the paper he was more concerned about the variant in New York than the one in California.
The report said that the researchers found that E484K and S477N mutations present in more than a quarter of samples in the study.
The E484K mutation has been called the “escape mutation” because it could help COVID-19 evade a human immune response, and the S477N mutation creates spike proteins that affect how it attaches to cells.
The paper pointed out that the study has not been peer-reviewed.
Fox News’ Kayla Rivas and the Associated Press contributed to this report