Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that existing coronavirus vaccines would likely be about 20 percent less effective against strains of the virus believed to have originated in South Africa and Brazil – but the vaccines will still offer significant protection.
“I think there’s a rule of thumb we can assume that the vaccines are probably going to be about 20 percent less effective against these new variants from Brazil and South Africa, which has mutated some key regions of the protein that we target with our vaccines,” Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
However, Gottlieb added, “The mRNA vaccines … are very efficacious. And so even if we see a reduction in the efficacy of those vaccines, and it may not be as profound with those vaccines, you’re still getting very good protection with those vaccines.”
“The vaccines are probably going to be about 20% less effective,” against some of the new #Covid19 strains – particularly the B1351 variant found in South Africa – but @ScottGottliebMD underscores that the vaccines are still effective. pic.twitter.com/ZAFc0F2EQc
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 7, 2021
Gottlieb continued that “we also may be able to develop in a timely fashion, maybe in four or six months, a consensus strain that bakes in a lot of the different variation that we’re seeing to have boosters available for the fall. So I think that there is a reasonable chance that we’re going to be able to stay ahead of this virus as it mutates.”
The former FDA head added that he remains particularly concerned about the spread of another variant, believed to have originated in England, in Florida and Southern California.
“And while I don’t think that [Florida is] going to have another surge of infection, they could have persistent high infection because [the British strain] is gaining a better foothold in that part of the country,” he added.