Feb. 8 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's White House COVID-19 Response Team said in its update on Monday that a variant first detected in Britain could become the dominant strain in the United States in just a few weeks, and for that it's important that people receive both vaccine doses.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the briefing that the variant, known as the B.1.1.7 mutation, has been in the United States and could be the most common strain by the end of March.
He added, however, that the vaccines available now -- from Pfizer and Moderna -- should be effective against the newer strain.
Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, emphasized the need to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. He also stressed that it's important for people to get both doses because the second dose offers far greater protection against the British variant.
"The reason that is important is not only the height of the response and the potency of the response but when you get to that level of antibody you get a greater breadth of response," he said.
"We mean it covers not only the wild type and currently circulating virus, but also the variants that we see circulating."
Fauci said the booster dose, given 21 to 28 days after the first shot, is what solidifies immunity to the virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky discouraged states from departing from establishing safety protocols of masking and physical distancing.
Walensky was answering a question about Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds suspending a mask mandate in her state.
"I would discourage any such activity and I would say we're still in the first 100 days of wear we want everyone masked," Walensky said without mentioning Reynolds by name.
"We have yet to control this pandemic. We still have this emerging threat of variants. I would just simply discourage any of those activities."
Walensky noted that coronavirus cases and hospitalizations both declined significantly last week, but are still up compared to last summer. She said vaccinations and established safety protocols will drive those numbers.
State Farm Stadium, in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, is one of many professional sports stadiums that are now being used as vaccination centers. Last week, Yankee Stadium in New York City opened as a vaccine center. Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is also inoculating residents.
The NFL has offered all 32 of its stadiums to be used as vaccination sites. Biden told CBS News before Super Bowl LV on Sunday that he expects to accept the league's offer to use the sites.