As COVID-19 variant cases tick up, infectious disease doctor says vaccination is key

As cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant spread in the U.S. and new coronavirus strains are being discovered, scientists are monitoring how the virus mutates and what steps can be done to contain the virus. 
Dr. Mekonnen Abebe, an infectious disease doctor with the Acacia Network, says scientists have identified the UK and Brazilian strains of the virus but says it's the South African variant that has the medical community more alarmed. 
“Recent studies indicate that the vaccine may not be effective as the South African variant, based on the studies they recently did,” said Dr. Abebe. 
Although it is a concern, he says that so far there aren’t any reported cases of the South African strain in the United States. 
He says the public should not panic and continue to follow safety guidelines. 
Dr. Abebe says drug-makers can manufacture new vaccines to fight more resistant strains. 
“Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson can make alterations in the vaccine in a short time, in weeks, so they can produce new vaccines,” said Dr. Abebe. 
Right now, there are 25 confirmed cases of the UK strain in New York state, including a new case reported Friday in Brooklyn. 
Dr. Abebe says both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been found to be highly effective against both the UK and Brazilian variants, which is why he says vaccinating as many people will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.