Like most viruses, the virus that causes COVID-19 keeps changing its structure and shape. This creates a variant. Experts are concerned that the variants may become more infectious and cause more severe COVID-19. One reason the COVID-19 virus is creating variants is because not enough people have been vaccinated. It is important to know if the available vaccines can also protect us from these variants.

Vaccines reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 (even with variants)

Even vaccinated people have a small amount of COVID-19 risk. This is true for many infectious diseases. However, the research suggests that the vaccines can protect us from getting severe COVID-19 from a variant. Currently, it is hard to know how protective a vaccine is if we only use blood tests for antibody levels and other measurements of the immune response to a vaccine. We need to see what is happening in the real-world as more people are vaccinated. The good news from around the world is that the vaccines do work against these variants.

Next steps

Will COVID-19 be similar to the flu requiring yearly vaccination? Only time will tell. For now, vaccine creators will probably have to make small but regular changes in their vaccines for the new variants. Another option might be a booster vaccine later in the year. Overall, the data suggests that as many people as possible need to be vaccinated.


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