COVID virus mutation explained and how it affects the vaccine

Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 9:43 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - COVID-19 is a virus and we know that viruses mutate, so we asked experts how that could impact a vaccine.

Without getting very technical, the COVID-19 vaccine is very specific, targeted at what makes the virus tick. We know that at this stage in their research, three companies have promising vaccine results.

But will it work?

“There have been small genetic mutations, if you look at the initial wild type virus that was seen in China, it is slightly different than what we are seeing here,” explained Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s Hospital Epidemiologist.

“While it’s slightly different, it does not affect the type of vaccines developed to ward off COVID-19,” said Dr. Lee. “Luckily, the way the vaccines have been created, the MRNA vaccine, is the same for all of these viruses.

Think of an MRNA vaccine as a big computer program that looks for icky stuff that’s dangerous on your laptop.

This kind of vaccine programs your immune system to recognize COVID-19 and get rid of it.

“I think that it’s incredibly good news that even though we could see some slight mutations, we should have a vaccine that covers all of those mutations,” said Dr. Lee.

The reason they have to keep these vaccines so cold is all because of the genetic data is so fragile.

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