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Rising new variant concerns: Analysis Updated: 2021-05-07 17:22:26 KST

Clinical trials have shown the COVID-19 vaccines now being administered around the world are highly effective in protecting fully vaccinated individuals from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
But will they continue to offer sufficient protection as the frequency of more transmissible and, in some cases, deadly emerging variants rise?
Dr. David Kwak, Clinical Professor at Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital is live with us.

Viruses naturally change over time through the process of mutation.
As the pandemic progressed, scientists have detected new coronavirus variants. To name a few that we're familiar with the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and the Indian variant.
What are the key differences between these variants? Which is more transmissible or more lethal than others?

Concerns are on the rise in this country as the UK variant is spreading in the city of Ulsan while a cluster infection of the South African variant was identified in the capital region. How concerned should we be about the spread of the variants in Korea?

Could South Korea's current vaccine rollout provide protection against the new strains, as well?

KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong said her team is now focused on containing the South African variant above all other covid variants, as vaccines appear to be less effective against the South African variant. But a recent report on real-world data from Qatar shows the Pfizer vaccine provides a 75 percent protection against the South African variant. What's your analysis of vaccine efficacy against the worrisome South African variant?

What do we know so far about the 'double-mutant' variant, or the B.1.617 variant, widely blamed for India's explosive second wave of infections? Is it more contagious and more deadly? Any data on efficacy of vaccines on them?

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said the world will see more covid variants of concern in the next 6 months, and that the world will need booster shots. What's your projection, and would booster shots further complicate Korea's vaccination plan?

Dr. David Kwak of Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital for us tonight. Many thanks for your insights and expertise. We appreciate it.
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