COVID Variant Concerns Continue

The variant circulating in Brazil is becoming more concerning for infectiousness and severity. CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports.

Video Transcript

DICK BRENNAN: Despite the promising news about the effectiveness of COVID vaccines, there are concerns about variants, and they continue.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: Yes, the variant circulating right now in Brazil is becoming more concerning. CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez has more.

MAX GOMEZ: The good news comes from a CDC report today evaluating the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in widespread real world use. Similar to clinical trial results, both vaccines prevented 90% of infections by two weeks after the second shot. Even one dose provided 80% protection.

Just as importantly, the vaccines appeared to provide good protection against the variants that were circulating during the study period from December of last year until two weeks ago, which includes the UK and South Africa mutations. However, what is concerning, is how these vaccines will work against the variant first identified in Brazil.

THOMAS BALCEZAK: It seems that, and I'm using my words carefully here, that it's more infectious, meaning it'll spread more easily.

MAX GOMEZ: Dr. Tom Balcezak, Chief Clinical Officer for the Yale New Haven Health System, says the increased infectiousness is just one of the concerns with the Brazil variant.

THOMAS BALCEZAK: It seems to have infected people were are already infected with the coronavirus and have had COVID-19 previously, so it may be able to evade immunity. There's some beginning data here to suggest that it may be more deadly.

MAX GOMEZ: I spoke recently with the CEO of Moderna, who committed his company to quickly generate a vaccine against any and every clinically significant variant that pops up. They're already testing a vaccine against the South Africa variant. Dr. Balcezak and others emphasize that our best defense right now is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, because when there's less virus circulating, there's less opportunity for the virus to mutate. Dr. Max Gomez, CBS 2 News.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: For more information and also answers to frequently asked questions regarding vaccines, please visit our website, cbsnewyork.com.