Existing vaccines should work against new coronavirus variants—for now
Early research suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has not mutated enough to render current vaccines ineffective, but scientists say that monitoring future viral evolution will be crucial.
More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, public health authorities are contending with an emerging threat: new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Researchers around the world have recently identified three notable variants: B.1.1.7, first found in the United Kingdom in December; 501Y.V2, found in South Africa in December; and P1, identified in Brazil on January 13.
There’s no evidence that any of these variants are deadlier than versions of the virus that came before. However, some may be more transmissible due to mutations that alter the coronavirus’s spike protein—the part of the virus that latches on to human cells, and the part that vaccines target. If left unchecked, these variants could spread faster and cause even more