Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said Sunday that while COVID-19 vaccines continue to prove effective against the current variants, this might not continue to be the case if more variants emerge.
Inglesby downplayed concerns about recently discovered variants, particularly the South Africa variant which has reportedly displayed resistance to some treatments and possibly the vaccine itself.
“What we’re seeing is that in the variant that was found in South Africa, at least in mild to moderate disease, some of the vaccine studies are showing diminished effectiveness,” Inglesby confirmed to “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, while noting that “we still have enough cushion with the vaccines that they will still be very effective at this point.”
Inglesby warned, however, that “it’s a message that’s saying this virus is evolving and could continue to evolve in ways that make it more dangerous – either more transmissible or more lethal.”
Inglesby praised the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, saying that it was an “amazing” development that provides a much-needed boost as the country pushes to vaccinate more people in an aggressive campaign.
He also suggested that trials for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine accounted for the new variants – an element for which the earlier Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could not have tested – and that might have factored into the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s lower efficacy.
The vaccine also appears to improve in efficacy as time goes on, reaching potentially 85% protection against all strains after 28 days.
The vaccine could help push schools to re-open. Experts point to “community prevalence” as the most important factor when considering whether or not to re-open schools, and more vaccines will help drive down that prevalence.
“As long as the community prevalence of the disease around them is not overwhelming,” Inglesby said about school reopening. “And so that’s really encouraging news, but what we see is that schools that have resources can put those things in place, and many schools in the country have not been able to put those things into place.”