Fauci Contradicts VP Harris Comments, Says Scientists ‘Warned About COVID-19 Variants’
© REUTERS / Greg NashDr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss the on-going federal response to COVID-19, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 11, 2021
© REUTERS / Greg Nash
Earlier, the US vice president said in a recent interview that the current administration hadn’t foreseen the spread of the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants.
US top medical adviser Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that government experts had expected new coronavirus variants, but didn't specifically foresee the unprecedented number of mutations in strains such as Omicron.
"We definitely saw variants coming," Fauci said as cited by Fox News. "What was not anticipated was the extent of the mutations in the amino acid substitutions in omicron, which was really unprecedented."
When the Omicron variant was first found in South Africa, experts detected 32 mutations in its S-protein, which forms the crown-like spikes on the virus’ envelope. The protein, which helps the virus attach to cells and infect them, is the main trigger of the immune response. In total, Omicron has about 50 mutations that differentiate it from others. The latest Delta strain has 10 mutations.
"When you have so much replication going on in the community, to give a virus enough opportunity to replicate, you know it’s ultimately going to mutate, and sometimes those mutations wind up a new variant," Fauci explained. "That’s what happened with delta, certainly that’s what happened with omicron."
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Harris noted that President Biden’s administration and “most scientists” didn’t see Delta and Omicron coming.
“And that’s the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants," she said.