COVID-19 vaccines likely effective against new variant

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will likely hold up against the fast-spreading variant first detected in the U.K., reports CBS News. 

Uzma Syed, DO, an infectious disease expert and head of the COVID-19 task force at Long Island, N.Y.-based Good Samaritan Hospital told CBS: "There's good reason to believe the vaccines will be effective … manufacturers are testing them because the vaccine produces immunity in many different ways." 

The coronavirus also doesn't appear to change as rapidly as influenza, meaning the vaccines likely wouldn't have to be modified as often, said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

If the COVID-19 vaccines need to be tweaked, it could be done "in minutes," two experts told The Washington Post. 

Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania, and one of the inventors of messenger RNA technology used in the vaccines, told the Post it would be "very easy" to make adjustments if needed. That's in part because the FDA probably wouldn't require the same level of regulatory requirements and trials for a potential modification as it did for the initial vaccine development, Dr. Weissman said. 

So far, the variant has been detected in Canada, Japan, Australia, Lebanon and several countries across Europe. As of Dec. 28, the U.S. is requiring all travelers arriving from Britain to test negative within 72 hours of their departure flight. 

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state
The evolution of COVID-19: 4 leaders talk symptoms, treatment & clinical trends
19 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 28


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