The United States can defeat the novel coronavirus variants, but the right tools are needed to do it, according to the White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Andy Slavitt.

What’s going on?

Slavitt told CNN in a new interview that the coronavirus variants — like the one from South Africa, which was recently discovered in the United States — can be defeated if people take the right steps.

  • “Nothing about this news says we can’t defeat this thing,” he told CNN. “It just means we need more tools, and we need to be more united in doing it.”
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Slavitt told CNN the United States will need to monitor the variants closely in order to stop them, too.

  • “We’re going to have to stay one step ahead of these mutations,” Slavitt said. “We’re going to need processes to keep developing tests, therapies and vaccines to make sure that as and if the virus mutates a little bit, like the flu does, we’re able to stay ahead of it.”

Notes about the South African variant

The Washington Post reports that the South Africa variant led to “an enormous spike of new cases and deaths” because it is more transmissible in South Africa.

  • The new variant has “not yet proved to be more lethal than others, including similarly highly transmissible variants recently detected in Britain and Brazil, but mutations that make it around 50% easier to catch have allowed it to stage a takeover of what was already out-of-control community transmission in South Africa,” The Washington Post reports.
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Yes, but ...

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington released new data that showed the variants — if they spread quickly throughout the country — could add 85,000 more deaths to the U.S. projected death toll.