Covid Variants

March 8, 2021

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Anchor lead: How concerned should we be about the number of new Covid variants emerging? Elizabeth Tracey reports

New Covid-19 variants are emerging all around the world, with some countries doing a much better job at genetically sequencing them than others. Brian Garibaldi, a critical care medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, says here in the US we likely need to be doing more sequencing.

Garibaldi: We need to do a better job of understanding what variants are out there. We know about the variants in the places that have been doing a lot of genetic testing, we’ve seen a variant pop up in California. There probably are more in the US. It’s important to use this as an opportunity to reinforce how much genetic testing we’re doing on these viruses to really understand as we start vaccinating people, as we see cases coming down, the next challenge is going to be identifying pockets where there could be a variant concern, and making sure that we put in play both targeted public health measures but maybe even targeted vaccinations.  :30

Garibaldi notes that current vaccines do seem to reduce both hospitalizations and severe disease, even if they don’t prevent infection, but says keeping a close eye on emerging strains will help us modify vaccines if necessary. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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