Experts say vaccines should still protect us from mutant viruses

COVID-19 Vaccine KFYR
Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 7:46 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The North Dakota Department of Health this morning confirmed the state now has its first two cases of the COVID-19 variant first found in the U.K.

However, infectious disease experts say we should still be protected through vaccinations.

Dr. Noe Mateo says viruses mutate all the time. However, the change starts with small, slow mutations. f enough of these small mutations occur, eventually the virus could become impervious to current vaccines. But, he says the vaccines out now should still protect us through a process called cell mediated immune response.

“Even though the vaccine might not generate the right kind of antibodies to bind specifically-- to bind tightly-- to a mutant virus, that cell mediated immunity that a vaccine develops might still be enough to protect people from getting sick and dying,” said Sanford Health Bismarck Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Noe Mateo.

Cell mediated immune responses happen when a virus or vaccine triggers cells, rather than antibodies, to kill the virus. Evidence shows the vaccines out now can prevent against the current mutant strains.

Even if COVID were to mutate enough, Dr. Mateo says the process of changing the mRNA in vaccines to account for the change is simple. He says the vaccine’s mRNA sequence can be tailored to protect against the new strain within a matter of days.

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