• Vaccines could protect against the variant first seen in India, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.
  • Preliminary studies suggest the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines likely protect people from it.
  • The variant has been of concern because it is spreading around the world.
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Evidence is mounting that COVID-19 vaccines would be “probably quite protective” against the B.1.617 variant, which was first identified in India, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday. 

The variant has been of particular concern because it is rapidly spreading around the world, including in the US and UK, and seems to be more transmissible.

Several preliminary studies published in the last few days indicate that the variant has only “modest neutralization resistance” to vaccines available in the US, Fauci told a White House briefing. Those studies have not been peer-reviewed. 

One such study, from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, tested whether antibodies from people who had received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could block the infection of viruses carrying the spike protein of the B.1.617 variant in a petri dish. 

The vaccine’s antibodies were “a little bit weaker against the variants, but not enough that we think it would have much of an effect on the protective ability of the vaccines,” senior author Nathaniel Landau told AFP on Monday.

There is “no reason to believe” that other vaccines, like the one from Johnson & Johnson, wouldn’t work against the variant, the scientists said in the study. 

Studies have also been “very encouraging” regarding protection against the B.1.526/ B.1.525, first identified in New York, the B.1.427/B.1.429, first identified in California, and the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the UK, Fauci said on Tuesday. 

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