Fauci later told CNN that there was a ‘very high rate’ of being re-infected with the new variants, if they become dominant.

‘If it becomes dominant, the experience of our colleagues in South Africa indicate that even if you’ve been infected with the original virus that there is a very high rate of reinfection to the point where previous infection does not seem to protect you against reinfection,’ he said.

Variants may make the vaccine less effective, Fauci said, but that did not mean vaccinations were a waste of time.

‘Even though there is a diminished protection against the variants, there’s enough protection to prevent you from getting serious disease, including hospitalization and deaths,’ Fauci said. ‘So, vaccination is critical.’