The potential new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that at least one new coronovirus strain has shown resistance to treatment, but insists that the vaccines are still effective.
Several new COVID-19 strains have been generated in the past month, raising concerns that current treatments and vaccines will not be effective. Those concerns are largely unfounded, Drs. Rochelle Wallensky told “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan.
“We’ve known for a long time that viruses replace any virus, not just coronaviruses,” said Valensky, who has been nominated by President-Elect Joe Biden to be the next head of the CDC. “So far, it seems more permeable than Britain.”
“We don’t have any information on whether it develops our vaccines,” Valensky continued. “We have indications that this is unlikely.”
Valensky promised that there are “further studies” looking at the efficacy of various new strains, but Brennan said in a special report that the new South Africa strain of COVID-19 is resistant to antibody therapy.
Valensky confirmed that he had “heard similar things” about antibodies used in treatments such as Regeneron therapy used for President Donald Trump’s treatment.
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“I think there is concern not only about South African and Brazilian strains, but other future strains that may have resistance to those antibodies,” Wallenski said. “Not removing all efficacy, but reducing efficacy.”
Valensky urged that the best way to handle potential issues arising from mutations is to ensure they are caught as soon as possible, Biden said, adding that the public health system has the necessary resources to be effective.
The main concern will be that the lack of investment will delay the opening of public schools – a major target for the first 100 days in Biden’s office. The new UK strain of the virus has proven to be more contagious, and may prove problematic to ensure a safe environment in schools.
The administration will “carefully” see how best to invest resources to ensure that schools are capable of handling the demands of a safe environment.
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The administration’s plan is to vaccinate teachers and ensure that transmission and disease rates are reduced before pushing for a reopening.