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Concerning Covid-19 variants and vaccines in the US today

Sars-CoV-2 Spike Protein, Focus of COVID-19 vaccines. Image credit: Jason McLellan / University of Texas at Austin

What we know about Covid-19 vaccines and the new variants. There are three Covid-19 variants being followed in the United States because they are either more contagious, may cause more severe disease, and maybe less responsive to the currently available vaccines.

I have created a table for this week’s update.  The 2 vaccines currently available in the US are Moderna and Pfizer. All vaccine companies know the genetic sequence of the virus and these mutations.  If the vaccine is proven to be less effective, they are prepared to make necessary adjustments which would mean a booster of you already received the vaccine or a new vaccine if you were never vaccinated.  The FDA is currently reviewing Johnson and Johnson vaccine for vaccine efficacy in people and immune response in the lab to these variants. Study results in South Africa have shown the Astra Zeneca vaccine to NOT prevent mild to moderate disease of the South African B.1.351 variant but not enough cases to see if it prevents severe cases.  That vaccine is no longer given in South Africa and flights from South Africa are not permitted to land in the US.