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Dr. Fauci Says This is the "Best" Way to Stop the COVID Mutation 

It can protect you from the virus and promote herd immunity.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

In December 2020, it was revealed that new variants of COVID-19 were being identified around the world. These mutations, originating in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, were immediately described as more transmissible as the original, and one of them, the South African variant, less likely to be offered protection from the vaccine. On Tuesday, during The Washington Post Live's Coronavirus Leadership During Crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, took a deep dive into the COVID mutation, revealing the one way we can stop it. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

COVID Will "Continue to Replicate" Unless We All Get Vaccinated

It is totally expected for a virus to mutate, and usually there is "no functional relevance at all," Fauci explained. "They don't change anything functionally about the virus, but every once in a while, if the virus replicates enough, namely, when there's a lot of infection in the community and in the world, you get mutations that do impact the viruses function. For example, could make it more transmissible, could have an effect on making it more dangerous in the sense of causing more serious illness, but importantly, it could ultimately evade or avoid the protective effect of both monoclonal antibodies and the antibodies that are induced by a vaccine."

Even if the new variants are more resistant to vaccines—such as the South Africa variant B351—the vaccine does still offer some protection. Therefore, vaccination is still important. Additionally, "what we have to be careful of is that as the virus continues to replicate, it will accumulate more mutations," Fauci continued. And the only way to stop this is via vaccination. 

"When you try to contain a virus, either with a drug or a vaccine, it gets pressure to mutate, and the more pressure you put on it, the more it mutates," he explained. "As I've said many, many times, and I would like to say it again so people could understand it, the best way to prevent the evolution of mutations is to suppress the replication of the virus in the community, which means that we need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as we possibly can and as efficiently as we possibly can."

That way, you are suppressing the replication. "When you think of all the new cases every day, not only in the United States, but in the world, that leaves an open playing field for the virus to mutate," he says. "You can strain it a bit by vaccinating people—you diminish its capability of mutating. So that's one of the really strong reasons why we need to really push ahead with vaccinations."

Ultimately, one very effective tool in preventing "the evolution of mutations," is getting "many people vaccinated as quickly as possible," Fauci asserts. "And if you have vaccine hesitancy or reluctance to get vaccinated, you're never going to get to that overwhelming majority of the population, which I've estimated should be at least 70 to 85% before you get that blanket or umbrella of what we refer to as herd immunity. If we do get that, there will be very few mutations because the virus is not going to mutate if it doesn't have a playing field to replicate. So vaccine hesitancy is critical and we are addressing it."

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

How to Avoid the COVID Mutation

So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.