Concerns have been raised on the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines in dealing with the new variants as the world braces for the fourth wave of the deadly pandemic.
CITE contacted the Health Desk Experts who explained that most of the vaccines that have been given emergency authorization work by activating a variety of antibodies that focus on different parts of the Covid-19 virus.
“Some mutations can also make viruses less contagious and severe, but these small changes are a natural part of the virus’ evolution. So, how does a vaccine respond to these mutations if they are always changing”.
They said the vaccines activate a bunch of different cells and types of antibodies to fight infections.
“This approach means that vaccines will likely have some effectiveness against the virus, even with its inevitable mutations. But as more time passes, and as COVID-19 continues to spread, some mutations will likely make the virus look very different than its original form. This would help the virus potentially evade the protection of existing vaccines,” they said.
The experts said this is why it is so important to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.
Scientists can adjust vaccine formulas to target newer parts of these mutations. That can offer more protection against mutations. However, those adjustments take time and more clinical trials.
Meanwhile, the Health Desk Experts said the vaccines do not cause new variants.
“As viruses change over time to create new mutations, “variants” can emerge. Variants are viruses with one or more new mutations. Vaccines do not cause new variants because vaccines are not viruses, which constantly evolve,” they said.
They said currently, vaccines target the early versions of the Covid-19 virus, and that pose challenges when variants start to spread.
“For this reason, variants that don’t respond to current vaccines will be more likely to spread than the original forms of SARS-CoV-2. Drugmakers are working to address this potential problem now, by evaluating how to tailor vaccines to address variant mutations,” said the Health Desk Experts.
Background: Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinical trial stage, but in 2020, scientists embarked on a race to produce safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines. In Zimbabwe, the authorized vaccines include the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac, Russia’s Sputnik V, and the Indian Covaxin.