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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Part of the reason experts are so willing to shake up the vaccine process is a new, more contagious strain of the virus that's spreading around the world.

Why it matters: There's no evidence so far that the mutation makes people any sicker. But if it's more contagious, that means more people getting sick, a certain portion of which will require care from the already-strained health care system.

  • That increased burden in itself could become more deadly, as patients receive a reduced quality of care.

State of play: So far, the mutation has been found in three states — California, Colorado and Florida. But some experts say it's only a matter of time before it becomes the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S., as it now is in the U.K.

  • "Epidemiological models and Britain's experience indicate that, while only a few cases of the variant have been identified in the United States, it will likely become our dominant strain within a few months," Wachter and Jha write in the Post.
  • "A more infectious virus means more cases, which means more hospitalizations and deaths. We need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible to save the most lives," they add.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
18 hours ago - Health

Global vaccine inequities raise concerns of persistent spread in developing world

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The unequal global access to coronavirus vaccines is raising concerns that the virus will be left to spread and dangerously mutate in some parts of the world, Bloomberg reports.

What they're saying: "We cannot leave parts of the world without access to vaccines because it's just going to come back to us," Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at health research foundation Wellcome, told Bloomberg. "That puts everyone around the world at risk."

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
19 hours ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

11 hours ago - Health

Fauci: U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if vaccine rollout goes to plan

NIAID director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that if the coronavirus vaccine rollout by the incoming Biden administration goes as planned, the U.S. could start to see effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early-to-mid fall.

What he's saying: "If we [vaccinate] efficiently in April, May, June, July, August, we should have that degree of protection that could get us back to some form of normality. ... But we've also got to do it on a global scale," he said at a Harvard Business Review virtual event.

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