UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) — Over the past few months, three new variants of the COVID virus emerged leaving many of us wondering if the vaccines are able to protect against these mutations.
“Both Pfizer and Moderna are looking specifically because of the mutations again from U.K., South Africa, Brazil. What they’re looking at is okay we know that this does has some kind of an impact on the effectiveness. So they’re actually looking at how can we modify the vaccines so that it takes those changes into account,” said Dr. Kent Hall Chief Physician Executive at Mohawk Valley Health System.
And that could mean a booster shot. Dr. Hall explains that the Pfizer and Moderna second doses are a form of a booster shot, so developing another one down the road would reinforce the antibodies against the virus.
“Now it sees the native virus,” Dr. Hall said. “It’s kind of like ‘Oh hey wait! I’ve seen this before! In fact, I’ve seen this twice before. I know what this is.’ So, it revs it up that much faster and it fights it off before it can actually take hold and cause you to be sick.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office confirmed the first case of the Brazilian variant in the state weeks ago. Dr. Hall a booster shot may be necessary for one of two reasons.
“We recognize that your body’s ability, your immune system’s ability to recognize the invading protein and to fight it off decreases over time,” Hall said. “The second one is maybe there’s been enough mutation that the vaccines that we’re currently getting right now may lose significant effectiveness against the new variant.”
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There’s still no word yet on if and when a booster shot will be available.