TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - During an East Texas Now interview, Dr. Jennifer Ashton said that some of the recently emerging variants of the COVID-19 virus are concerning because it seems like they have found “ways to evade or somewhat evade the immune system.”
Ashton, ABC’s chief medical correspondent, spoke to ETN host Jeremy Butler on Tuesday about the variants of the COVID-19 virus that have popped up in California, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.
“First, it’s important to note that viruses mutate for a living,” Ashton said. “The fact that a virus has variants should not be surprising.”
However, Ashton did say that the way some of the variants like the ones in South Africa and Brazil have been acting is cause for some concern among epidemiologists and healthcare professionals because it appears as though they are able to “evade or somewhat evade the immune system.”
She said that is significant because it is relevant to people who have recovered from COVID-19. The current assumption is that these people are now immune to the forms of the virus that are circulating, and that may prove to be untrue.
The variants could also result in COVID-19 vaccines becoming less effective, Ashton said.
ABC’s chief medical correspondent said that the current version of the coronavirus has only been around for about a year, and healthcare professionals and scientists are learning something new about the COVID-19 virus almost every day.
Quoting Dr. Anthony Fauci, Ashton said the COVID-19 virus can’t mutate if it is not replicating or reproducing.
Ashton said to do that the United States and other countries need to use everything in the “toolbox” to keep the COVID-19 virus from spreading. She said while the recently approved vaccines are a big part of that, people also need to double down and keep doing things like wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands, and avoiding large groups of people.
“We want to use everything at our disposal to stop this virus from replicating,” Ashton said. ‘if it’s not spreading, it can’t mutate.”
To watch the full interview, click the video above.