Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, says colleagues in South Africa have told him some patients there have been reinfected with the coronavirus due to the new, more contagious, variant.
"When we were communicating with our many scientific and public health colleagues in South Africa, they were telling us over the phone 'something strange is going on right now, we have people who were infected several months ago, who now with this new strain are getting reinfected,'" Fauci told NBC News' Lester Holt on Friday.
"Which is telling you that the immune response induced to the first infection wasn't good enough to prevent the second infection."
However, Fauci said vaccination appears to be "good or better than natural infection in preventing further infection."
"The vaccine itself appears to be better at inducing that kind of protection because they had anywhere from 50 to 88% efficacy against severe disease," said Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.