The continuing spread of Covid-19 will only fuel the rise of more variants, US Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said Monday.
“With so much virus replication going on in many parts of the world, it's like a giant petri dish. And so they're going to be spitting up variants all the time because there's so much virus replication,” Woodcock told Dr. Marc Siegel on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio Reports.
“We just have to be on our guard," she added.
Woodcock said variants may easily evade some current antibody treatments like Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab, but vaccines so far appear to protect well against variants. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-engineered immune system proteins that work against specific targets. Vaccines elicit a broad immune response.
“We've already seen that with the variants in the United States, with bamlanivimab, and that it's no longer effective against a number of the variants circulating in the United States,” Woocock said.
“This was expected with the monoclonals because they're just monoclonal, of course. And so they have an exquisite specificity and they're vulnerable to this type of shift. The vaccine is more robust because you're having a human response, a polyclonal response."
Woodcock said increased viral surveillance is important in understanding what needs to be done to combat variants.