Anthony Fauci: I don't think that's going to be the case. It’s not as open-and-shut as you might think. For example, when the South African isolate was tested against the antibodies that are induced by the vaccine, the isolate diminished the effectiveness multiple-fold, but didn't eliminate it. That's the reason why in the Johnson & Johnson trial in South Africa, even though the efficacy against the variant was about 50-something percent, there were no hospitalizations and no deaths associated with that variant. I don't think the 526 in New York is going to be any worse in the sense of evading the vaccine or evading the monoclonal antibodies. I think we're going to see that it likely transmits a bit better than the standard wild type, and may even be a little bit more evasive of the vaccine. But that’s another good reason to get people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible. We take the New York variant very seriously. We're following it very closely, but you asked a very provocative question—is this going to be the one that does ascend? No, I don't think so.
That’s the narrative—that we’re in a race between vaccination and variants .There is a tenet in biology that viruses do not mutate unless you give them the opportunity to replicate. The easiest way to prevent the spread in the community is to vaccinate as many people as possible at the same time that you stick to the public health measures of wearing masks, of avoiding close contact, of avoiding congregate settings. Let's not declare victory yet, right? You don't want the decline that we're seeing to plateau at an unreasonably high level. Right now, the level of daily infections is somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 a day. That's absolutely too high a level to be acceptable. I don't want to be a downer on all of this. But you've got to continue to practice public health measures until the level of infection goes way, way down. [Less than a day after this interview, the governor of Texas announced he would do the opposite.]It seems to me that it's almost like a game of Russian roulette—if we don't do vaccination fast enough, sooner or later one of these chambers will have a deadly bullet.