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Infectious disease consultant explains how upcoming COVID booster shots protect against variants

North Dakota COVID-19 vaccine
North Dakota COVID-19 vaccine(KFYR-TV)
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:11 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Drug makers have already rolled out their first versions of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Now, companies, like Pfizer and Moderna, are working on a booster to accompany the first shot.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are making the boosters to combat the new variants of COVID-19.

However, infectious disease consultants say these shots can also add an extra layer of protection when it comes to fighting the original, wild type virus.

News of COVID mutations has spread almost as fast as the variants.

“I am concerned. I try to stay informed of the new variants that may be coming out and where they’re affecting,” said Bismarck Resident Bill Brien.

Health experts say when it comes to an infection, it’s a race between how quickly the virus can multiply and cause damage versus how quickly the hosts immune system can defend itself.

That’s where booster shots come in.

“If you have more antibodies to begin with and more t-cells to begin with to fight off an infection, then the host is going to win that race,” said Sanford Health Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Noe Mateo.

Boosters increase protective antibodies and t-cells, which improves the immune response to COVID.

Doctors say the same principal applies to the mutant strains.

“If you have a booster vaccination on top of what you had before, then your chances are improved in terms of the footrace against that pathogen,” said Dr. Mateo.

People say they’re willing to get the booster if it means ending the pandemic.

“Yes, I would. I think we will do what we can to stop this and look forward to a better life for everybody,” said Dawson Resident Faye Kringstad.

The CDC reports experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions.

Dr. Mateo says the boosters could help protect us from that unknown by giving us a boost in antibodies.

The updated booster shots will need to go through the evaluation as the first vaccines.

Both companies are currently in clinical trials.

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