Coronavirus mutations won't complicate vaccination strategy, NIH director says

The novel coronavirus is a "fairly well-behaved virus" that should respond well to an effective vaccine strategy, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in a July 2 hearing

Dr. Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, said that unlike HIV or seasonal flu, the coronavirus does not rapidly mutate to evade treatment strategies, according to The Washington Post.

While researchers have already detected several genetic variants of the coronavirus, Dr. Collins said none seem like they would interfere with the effectiveness of vaccine candidates in development. 

"The big question we all have is whether this is a circumstance where, once vaccinated, you are protected for life, or whether, over the course of time, this virus will change its coat enough that you will need to have a booster that’s slightly better, designed for whatever it is this turns into next," Dr. Collins told lawmakers. "We don't know the answer to that."

Dr. Collins also said he is optimistic that the White House's Operation Warp Speed initiative will have a vaccine ready by the end of the year and generate 300 million doses by early 2021.

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