Health care workers answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD, MPH & Stephaun Wallace, PhD, MS
What you need to know about the COVID vaccines and new variants
I know it sounds very scary, but first you have to understand how viruses work. Viruses in order to infect a person and make them sick, the viruses have to copy themselves. And when the viruses make copies of themselves, they make mistakes. And that’s all a mutation is it’s a mistake when the virus copies itself.
Viruses do what viruses do, and that is to sort of replicate. And as part of that replication process, it doesn’t always do it perfectly. You know, viruses want to survive. So by any means necessary, they’re going to work to do that.
So what we need to be concerned about is when they make mistakes, when they’re being copied, are they making a mistake that will affect the performance of the vaccine.
I think it’s really important that our communities understand that we’re expecting to see some variants pop up and that the variants that we’re seeing are being actively tested against the vaccines as they come out.
And what we know right now, even from studies, especially in the Johnson and Johnson study that tested the vaccine against these variants or these mutations, even with the mutations present it has been shown to prevent death and keep people out of the hospital.
All of the vaccines that are currently under emergency use authorization would work really well to protect people from getting seriously sick and ending up in the hospital and potentially dying. This is a new emerging situation for all of us. And so we’re constantly learning new things as we move along.
So as long as coronavirus is out in the community and it’s copying itself, it can be mutating, but this is the reason people need to get vaccinated. So that we can stop the spread of coronavirus and end the pandemic.
It’s really important that our communities are vaccinated as soon as possible to slow down the spread of the virus and to avert the opportunity for other variants of the virus to appear. The greater race is to avert additional hospitalizations and deaths.