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Fauci Calls Virus Mutations a 'Wake-Up Call'

Treat each new case as if it's caused by a new strain, CDC advises
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2021 2:15 PM CST

(Newser) – The coronavirus will keep mutating into new variants, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday, unless we achieve vaccination levels so high that new strains have nowhere to go. "Mutations occur because the virus has a playing field, as it were, to mutate," he said, the Hill reports. "If you stop that and stop the replication, viruses cannot mutate." It's another reason to ramp up vaccinations. To do that, we'll "have to be nimble to be able to just adjust readily to make versions of the vaccine that actually are specifically directed towards whatever mutation is actually traveling at any given time," Fauci said in a White House briefing. In reinforcing the need for masking and social distancing, Andy Slavitt, a Biden coronavirus adviser, said, "Let's not be quite such polite hosts to this virus."

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Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, called the emergence of coronavirus mutations "a wake-up call to all of us." To identify the new variants quickly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding its genomic sequencing efforts. For now, Director Rochelle Walensky said, each new case should be treated as if it's caused by a new strain. "By the time someone has symptoms, gets a test, has a positive result, and we get the sequence, our opportunity for doing real case control and contact tracing is largely gone," she said. Fauci expressed hope that children can start receiving vaccines by summer, per NPR, after studies on their effectiveness are completed. President Biden wants most schools to reopen within three months, and he's called for $130 billion to help make that possible. (The UK variant has killed someone in the US.)

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