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Health Team

Researchers hope vaccines will be effective against new coronavirus variant

Posted December 30, 2020 9:57 p.m. EST

— There are now confirmed cases of the new coronavirus variant in two states - California and Colorado.

Researchers say this variant of coronavirus is more contagious.

Now they pose the question ---will vaccines work against it?

Duke researchers believe vaccines will still be effective against this variant but the process could take up to three weeks to find out.

Magnus Hedemark of Raleigh lives in a home with family member who is high-risk for severe illness.

He’s practicing more caution as a more contagious version of COVID-19 variant now identified in two states.

"I'm very concerned about how easily that could come to me through a courier, or you know, an electrician working in my home," he said.

Scientists at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute are testing COVID-19 vaccines against the new variant of COVID-19 called B.1.1.7.

"We are very interested in whether or not this variant will impact the effectiveness of the vaccines," Dr. David Montefiori said.

Dr. Montefiori says all viruses mutate, but he thinks it’s unlikely this mutation will affect the vaccine.

"Those vaccines can be modified very quickly to incorporate the spike of this new variant," he said.

Dr. Lisa Gralinski, an epidemiologist at UNC, says a new variant doesn’t need to be more deadly to cause more distress in our healthcare systems.

"It's really worrisome to me because our hospitals and our doctors are already incredibly overwhelmed," she said.

Hedemark hopes getting the vaccine helps slow the spread of the virus.

"I'm enthusiastic and looking forward to my chance to take it," he said.

State health officials say they are working with CDC on additional ‘surveillance’ of this particular strain.

Researchers say if we keep the virus from spreading, we reduce its chances of mutation.

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