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Will COVID-19 vaccines protect you against South African coronavirus variant?

Barbara asked First Coast News an important question about the COVID-19 vaccine's reaction to new variants of the virus. We took it to Mayo Clinic.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — "Do the current vaccines offer much protection" against the COVID-19 variants, particularly the new South African variant? Barbara sent that pressing question to the First Coast News Vaccine Team.

First Coast News took Barbara's question to Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Team.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has said the new South African variant could become the dominant variant in the US.

"It has all 3 mutations that are just bad actors. That make it very easy to infect," Poland explained. "It has high levels of virus, what we call viral load, and high levels of death."

However, Dr. Poland believes the COVID-19 vaccines currently on the US market, the Pfizer and Modena, offer significant protection against the variants.

"Protection against death appears to be about 100% and a very high protection against critical illness, about 85%," Poland explained.

However, Poland said the vaccines will not keep you safe entirely from spreading the virus to others. Even if you asymptomatic, he said protection against you from infecting another person is maybe 25%.

Credit: Mayo

However, he said this is not a reason to skip the vaccine. However, he does advise people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing to keep others safe.