The latest on new variant of COVID-19 discovered in UK and vaccine rollouts

Dr. Todd Ellerin, infectious disease specialist, discusses the COVID-19 variant found in the U.K. and answers questions about the coronavirus vaccines.
7:02 | 12/23/20

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Transcript for The latest on new variant of COVID-19 discovered in UK and vaccine rollouts
Infectious disease specialist ABC news medical contributor doctor Todd valor and now for more honest actor Eller and good morning I want to start with this new strain of -- nineteen found in the UK we keep hearing. That it's more contagious but what does that mean from a practical sense is it more likely. To pass through masks does a live on surfaces longer instead of six feet of distance do we need twelve feet now. Good morning Andrea so definitely more questions than answers your west they're a couple of things number one of masks are going to continue to work like they've worked with other strains the other when our economy isn't the first string we've heard about that has mutated we heard though the Europeans -- that's the strain that is infiltrated most of the United States that actually had a mutation in the spike protein now this one has more we have to see is really more efficient that hasn't been proven yet the question is. Did you mutation could actually lead to more spread. Packaging you'll all just assumed that is more spread right now in the UK but it's very possible that the US strained right now may be. Spring is officially do you cage strain in the US what we have to learn from this is we need to do more sequence we only sequence zero point 3% of the viruses we see UK does 25 times more so for us to understand that and also this viral strain is likely already here in the US. Us all right and scientists. Believe the vaccines will still protect against the new strain that's the good news but the vaccines can also be adjusted. If needed Q officer with the processes for that. Right so the good news remember during and the vaccine induces more broad immunity hokey it's almost like we have an army navy air force and Marines fighting with our buying our vaccine really elicits a response from all of those so. I didn't think it's likely that the best he's going to work against this UK variant does remain to be seen what's going to be tested is the blood. Patients were received the vaccine and scientists are already looking to see if those elicit the same type of height tighter antibodies that are protective but like you just. The vaccine is a large step up but then shot in step forward is the Platt. Form is already based technology these gene based technology that produced its backseat it has the flexibility. To Alter that Arnie sequence so we can come up with a new vaccine in a short period of time so if we find that this vaccine is less attractive we can check and just that process that's the beauty of this new technology. It's great to know that we don't have to start from square one if that worst case scenario happens now. So far five million vaccine doses have been delivered but only 600000. Roughly have been administered should we be concerned about that case. So of course we need to be concerned I want to give you sort of an analogy is almost like we're flying a space shuttle. At the same time that we're trying to build it. And fix it. So this is a challenging. You know. Operation and I think we have to meet the scene investment. That we need in developing the vaccines as we do in the implementation and if we invest in people. Parts. Technology and trust. Those four things we're gonna get to where we need today. That it is recommended that people receive two doses of the five children and into vaccines but an opinion piece in the New York Times says amid Daryn a vaccine is reported to be. About ninety per 5% effective after the first dose so. Is his second dose really necessary right now or should we be giving one goes to twice as many people. So I want you to be careful here. What you just quoted is based on small numbers and it wasn't the design of the study remember most people. Received two doses so even though we're seeing some numbers that are definitely in trusting observation. We hope. Question we need to give two doses of open these vaccines OK and remember it's been clearly shown after the second dose is when you get that. Rod and large amount of neutralizing antibody that really prevents the virus from being able to enter the cell beat up. The problems we have no idea that durability after a single dose so while single doses injures think if we want to. I dropped out debt needs to be studied in phase three trial. And after these or send your questions now after getting vaccinated. How long does it take to build up those any bodies and how do do we know how long. They then remain in our system. Right so as her in that you just mentioned your media protection act. After a single dose after about twelve days or so and that's important nonspecific community from what we called interferon. In things called binding antibodies and you do get an immune response but it wasn't until after that second dose or you really have got surge of neutralizing antibodies don't need to the most important. Antibodies that delivered that final not go punch and really prevent the virus from hijacking itself. Period after you get that second dose before you build up. Then the total immunity. That's right there's a doctorate adds about two weeks Diana I do want to go. But did assume you need you need that second dose and after that second doses probably you know a good one or two weeks after we don't know the exact number and it was probably a week or two after that second dose of three to four weeks later. After the first dose so really need a couple of months after you receive their first dose until you really help that she community. And I got this happening. Underscores. A hat that. I do get our. Underscored the importance of continuing to Wear those masks in doing the same infection prevention measures. That we've been using before and I want to make a clear in warning. To the Americans that we do not repeat. Does seem mistakes we made during Thanksgiving. Which is going on between another search we have to be really careful I just wanna get that message OI can't underscore that enough. We're very dangerous place right now Diane. I got we could see that especially from Caylee is report you could see how the hospitals there in California are preparing for this they are already anticipating. Another surge from Christmas when we're already seeing record high numbers. When it comes to the vaccine now I've got this question a lot on Twitter people are wondering could the vaccine help people who are already sick. Really important in the answer is no. Vaccines are competitive. They are not therapeutic. So you cannot use a vaccine to treat someone in the midst of cove in nineteen. But remember the CDC is recommending that people who have recovered from quote in nineteen should still be immunized. Named doctor Eller and it's always great talking always great to have you on thank you for LB. And few tears then.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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