Experts Discuss South African COVID-19 Variant and What It Could Mean for Vaccines, Reopening

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Despite concerns about increased transmissibility, experts are optimistic that the current vaccines will provide some level of protection when combined with the body's immune response.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Anthony Harris, MD, MBA, MPH, chief innovation officer and associate medical director at WorkCare, and Brittany Busse, MD, associate medical director at WorkCare, discussed the implications of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variant first found in South Africa.

Harris said experts believe the variant has increased transmissibility and there may be increased risk of death as has been found in the United Kingdom variant. Still, Busse said they are optimistic that the current vaccines should provide some level of protection when combined with the body’s immune responses.

“So, if you’ve already ramped up those B cells and T cells ahead of time, we are seeing that [the body] is less likely to overreact, less likely to cause the cytokine storm that puts people in a hospital or kills them with severe COVID symptoms,” Busse explained.

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