Tweaking COVID-19 vaccines will keep them effective against new variants

Tweaking COVID-19 vaccines will keep them effective against new variants


Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have cautioned that the first batch of vaccines created against the virus might not be the last. Like all viruses, this one would mutate, and eventually, those mutations could make the virus different enough that a different vaccine would be needed to combat it. Only two months into the vaccination campaign, researchers are preparing for that inevitability.

There’s early evidence from South Africa that both the Novavax and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine candidates are not as effective against a variant form of the virus first identified in the country, called B.1.351. The shots still offer some defense and still protect against hospitalization and death. Preliminary research…

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