Will the New COVID Strain Make the Vaccine Useless? Experts Weigh In
Scientists have worked hard on developing COVID vaccines for the past nine months, but just as they were being rolled out globally, a new strain of the virus was discovered in the UK last week. This new strain of COVID appears to be spreading so quickly that many European countries are closing their borders with the United Kingdom to prevent further spread. While there is still no evidence that the new strain is in the US, Americans are terrified of the risks involved, including the effects it will have on the vaccine. Read on to find out what experts have to say about the new strain and the already approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and to see what another leading voice has to say about the mutation, read a White House report, who gave this warning about the new COVID mutation.
Overall, experts are optimistic that the existing vaccine against this new strain of COVID will be effective. UK chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said in a press conference on Saturday that the vaccines appear to be enough to generate an immune response to the latest strain of the virus. Speaking at Meet the Press on December 20, Vivek Murthy, General Representative for President-Elect Joe Biden, said there was "no reason to believe that the vaccines developed will not be effective against this virus". In addition, World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, MD, told a December 21 press conference, "Although we have seen a number of changes and mutations so far, neither has a significant impact on the two." Vulnerability of the virus to any of the therapeutics, drugs or vaccines currently used in development, and it is hoped that this will continue to be the case. "
Vin Gupta, MD, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Assessment, shared a similar sentiment in an interview with CNBC's Squawkbox Asia on Dec. 21: "There is a strong belief here that the vaccine as it exists today will have efficacy against Infections from this new strain in England, in addition to the old strain we've been struggling with for months. "
Gupta stated that at the genetic level, the strain is likely quite similar to the previous variants. "The effectiveness of these vaccines in making antibodies that can really attack and kill COVID-19 is exceptional," Gupta said. "I don't expect these minor changes at the genetic level ... to affect vaccine performance in the short term."
However, Gupta notes that future versions of the vaccine may need to be updated, much like the flu vaccine, which varies slightly from year to year. "I think this could have an impact on our forward-looking work, but it won't have any impact in the short term," said Gupta. "It will not affect the effectiveness of the current vaccines in ending the pandemic." Read on to learn more about the new strain of COVID and to see if you are eligible to get your vaccine sooner. If you did this in 2020, you can get your COVID vaccine sooner.
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The new strain is the most mutated form of the virus we've seen so far.
Scientist studies COVID-19 in the laboratory
COVID-19 has previously gone through some minor mutations and variations, which is normal for a virus. However, experts have found that the newest variant present in the UK has more mutations than any other strain, which could be cause for concern. "I am concerned because since the beginning we have seen mutations all over the world, many thousands of them, but this one has more mutations than any other variant we have seen before," said Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London. said CNBC Squawk Box Europe.
According to Altmann, the 17 mutations in the strain "seem to be responsible for the uncontrollability we've seen in London and the Southeast in recent months." If you would like to receive more up-to-date COVID news straight to your inbox, subscribe to our daily newsletter.
The new COVID strain is more contagious.
Side view of woman wearing face mask and coughing while standing at the bus stop
At a press conference on Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that "although there is considerable uncertainty", the new variant "can be up to 70 percent more transferable than the old variant". He noted that "these are early dates and need to be reviewed".
According to Vallance, the new strain has become the dominant form of COVID in London and the southeast and east of England, accounting for more than 60 percent of infections. To see what shocked doctors about the vaccine, check out The One Thing About the COVID Vaccine That Amazed Even Doctors.
The new COVID strain has traveled outside of the UK.
Woman wearing disposable mask on public transport during the coronavirus pandemic
At the same press conference, Vallance said, "We believe [the new strain] is found in other countries too." He added that while British officials identified the new strain, they are not sure where it came from. "It could have started here, we don't know for sure," he said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of the new strain have been identified in Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands, while health officials in Italy and Gibraltar say they have also been reached. To learn what's in the vaccine, see This Is What It's Really In The COVID Vaccine.
It doesn't seem more deadly.
In the hospital, a sick male patient sleeps on the bed. Heart rate monitor is on his finger.
In a statement, UK Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: "There is currently no evidence that the new strain is causing a higher death rate or affecting vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is being done to confirm this."
This won't be the last new breed of COVID.
Vials of COVID-19 vaccine in a row.
The virus has been mutating since its inception and won't stop anytime soon. "This virus mutates like all viruses. The flu mutates the most. And viruses change their surface proteins. Once they do, the antibodies we developed against those surface proteins stop working," said former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD said on Face the Nation on December 20.
"The flu mutates very quickly, changes its surface proteins very quickly. That is why we constantly have to get a new flu vaccination. Some viruses like measles do not change their surface proteins. And this is how the measles vaccination, which we received 20 years ago, always works still. "explained Gottlieb. "Coronavirus seems to be somewhere in the middle. It will mutate and alter its surface proteins, but probably slowly enough that we can develop new vaccines." And to see why that one expert hasn't gotten his shot yet, check out This Is Why Dr. Fauci hasn't got the vaccine yet.
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