The new coronavirus variants are cause for concern, and early indications are that at least the one in South Africa could be more resistant to COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.'s top infectious disease expert, said Monday that those worries have prompted a lot of questions about whether people should wait to get their shots until the "next generation" of vaccines that are updated to specifically fight the variants. The answer? For Fauci, it's a resounding no.
For starters, while vaccines appear to be less successful at stopping the spread of the South Africa variant, there's still a strong possibility they'll prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths. But Fauci raised another crucial point — getting vaccinated will prevent other variants from emerging in the first place. "Viruses cannot mutate if they don't replicate," Fauci said. "And if you stop their replication by vaccinating widely and not giving the virus an open playing field to continue to respond to the pressures that you put on it, you will not get mutations." Tim O'Donnell