Undated photo shows a vial of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (BioNTech/Handout via Xinhua)
The coronavirus vaccines authorized in the United States are effective at combating the strain that is currently ravaging India, U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci told a White House briefing on Tuesday.
Initial studies indicated the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are "at least partially and probably quite protective" against serious illness, hospitalization and death, "indicating another very strong reason why we should be getting vaccinated," he said.
In one study, researchers looked at the efficacy of Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines against the variants first detected in India. The findings, which were reported in a pre-print paper on biorxiv.org and have yet to be peer-reviewed, showed both vaccines were still effective.
"There is a good reason to believe that vaccinated individuals will remain protected against the B.1.617 and B.1.618 variants," the researchers was quoted as saying.
Public health experts think the B.1.617 variant is likely leading to the massive spike in infections, hospitalizations and deaths in India, according to the report by The Hill on Tuesday.
That strain has also been linked to increased cases throughout parts of Europe, and the World Health Organization recently reclassified it as a "variant of concern" -- an indication that the variant has the "highest public health implications."
On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 17,724 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest daily case number since June in this country.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that 60 percent of people aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. In addition, more than 4.1 million teens aged 12 to 17 have received their first dose since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for that age group last week.