A nurse receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Northwell Health's Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital on December 21, 2020 in Valley Stream, New York.
  • Moncef Slaoui, head of the White House's Operation Warpspeed, said the new coronavirus variant "should be under control" with the vaccines. 
  • "This virus actually mutates as part of its normal behaviour, and therefore it is normal to expect there will be variants," Slaoui said in an interview on CBS' "Face theNation" on Sunday.
  • Vaccine companies and health experts have said that the coronavirus vaccines, should work to protect against the new variant that is believed to be up to to 70% more transmissible.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Moncef Slaoui, head of the White House's Operation Warpspeed, said the new coronavirus variant "should be under control" with the vaccines. 

"This virus actually mutates as part of its normal behaviour, and therefore it is normal to expect that there will be variants," Slaoui said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "Based on the information shared with us by the UK scientists and early data that we have here, we think that this virus variant should be under control with this vaccine."

In December, a new variant – called 501.V2 - which has 20 new mutations, eight of them in the main protein of the virus, the spike protein, emerged in South Africa.

Cases of the South African variant have also been identified in the UK, which moved that country to ban air travel from South Africa, as well as in Switzerland.

Since the new variant was confirmed, several countries including Israel, Turkey, Germany, and Switzerland restricted incoming and outgoing travel with South Africa, Business Insider South Africa reported.

Another variant that is believed to be possibly up to 70% more transmissible was also reported in the UK in late December. Since then, parts of the UK entered strict restrictions, and many countries around the world have restricted incoming travel from the country.

 

At least 33 countries have detected cases of the new variant, and the US reported cases of the new variant in San Diego and Colorado last week. 

Vaccine companies and health experts have said that the coronavirus vaccines, which started being distributed across the country last month, should work to protect against the new variant.

The CEO of BioNTech said that there was a "relatively high" chance the company's vaccine with Pfizer will work, and AstraZeneca's CEO said that their vaccine "should remain effective." As Business Insider's Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce reported, experts have doubled down this vaccine will likely work against the new strains of the virus. 

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