Fauci warns 'ominous' Covid strains from Brazil & South Africa are coming & vaccines may be less effective against them

DR Anthony Fauci has warned that Covid jabs might be useless against "ominous" mutant strains spilling out from South Africa and Brazil

America is in a "race against mutant" strains but Joe Biden's goal of delivering 100million doses of Covid vaccine over the first 100 days of his presidency "is absolutely a doable thing," the expert added.

The famous medical expert aired his concerns to Chuck Todd on Sunday while appearing on NBC's Meet The Press.

Fauci will be Biden's chief medical advisor on America's battle against Covid, in addition to his usual duties.

Todd asked: "What's your level of concern about this new variant that a lot of folks are concerned is certainly more contagious?"

The expert replied: "We're taking it really very seriously, Chuck. You don't want people to panic.

"But… people need to realize there's more than one mutant strain. There's one from the UK – that's the one that is actually is seen in the United States.

"There's another more ominous one that's in South Africa and Brazil. We're looking at all of them very, very carefully."

The Brazil variant is believed to be around 50 per cent more contagious than the original bug.

As a result, the UK has banned travel from South America and Portugal over fears the mutant version will derail its mammoth vaccination program.

Meanwhile, another mutant strain currently rampaging the UK has resulted in the NHS struggling to cope with 75 per cent more Covid patients than at the April peak, reports BBC News.

Also, some 53,000 NHS staff are currently off work due to the highly infectious virus, said Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England's chief executive.

Fauci said: "The Brits have made it very clear that it's more contagious.

"And the more hospitalizations you have [in the US], the more deaths you're going to have."

Several states in the US have recorded cases of the highly contagious UK strain.

But no cases of the South African variant have been found in the US – yet.

Experts are currently researching the effectiveness of vaccines on all three new strains from the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

"The thing we really want to look at carefully is that does that mutation lessen the impact of the vaccine?

"And if it does, Chuck, then we're going to have to make some modifications. But we're all over that. We're looking at that really very carefully," he added.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also confirmed that two new vaccines under development by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson could "very soon" be presented to US regulators for approval.

This would obviously increase the pace of vaccinations.

The medic was also asked about Biden's promise to invoke the DPA, the Defense Production Act, on the vaccine manufacturing process.

Fauci confirmed: "The issue of getting 100million doses in the first 100 days, is absolutely a doable thing.

"The feasibility of his goal is absolutely clear, there’s no doubt… that can be done.

Todd asked: "How close are we on Johnson & Johnson and the AstraZeneca vaccines?"

The doctor replied: "Soon, Chuck. We're going to be meeting with the authorities on that."

He said that he expected the data would be presented "within a week or two… essentially putting the package together to get an emergency use authorization.

"But we're weeks away, not months away, for sure."

In regards to the emerging threat of the mutant Covid strains, Todd also asked Fauci whether Americans would be hit by new restrictions such as orders to don "double masks" or be under "additional lockdowns".

The nation’s top infectious disease expert strongly urged people to get protective jabs to help fight Covid.

He said: "The easiest way to evade this negative effect of these new isolates is to just – when the vaccine becomes available – people should get vaccinated.

"Boy, if ever there was a clarion call for people to put aside vaccine hesitancy, if we can get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, we'd be in very good shape and could beat even the mutant."

In the meantime, he recommended people continue wearing face coverings to help avoid the spread, "keep the distance and avoid the congregate settings".

Fauci's remarks came amid criticism of the pace at which the US is administering jabs for a disease that has killed nearly 395,000 people in the country.

About 10.6million Americans have so far been vaccinated – about half as many as President Donald Trump's administration hoped would have received injections by the end of 2020.

Biden has said ramping up the pace of vaccinations will be one of his top priorities when he takes office on Wednesday.

The US could face “perpetual” Covid-19 infections as more contagious variants of the virus spread, a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief warned.

Scott Gottlieb said: "We could be facing a situation where we have perpetual infection heading into the spring and the summer, as these variants get a foothold here."

Gottlieb advised that the coronavirus jabs are “really our only backstop against these variants taking hold".

Highly contagious variants have already emerged in the US. 

Two “super Covid” strains have been detected and become dominant in Columbus, Ohio. 

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