As scientists are trying to track the spread of a new, more infectious coronavirus variant, it has been identified that the mutation identified in South Africa and Brazil, changes a part of the virus that your immune system’s antibodies get trained to recognize after you’ve been infected or vaccinated. What the lab studies have shown is that the antibodies we develop related to infection and/or vaccination may be less effective at neutralizing the virus.
It is important to understand that the mutated virus will not render the vaccines useless but may indeed be less effective. Per Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo, a molecular virologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, “with one mutation or even three mutations, it’s expected the antibodies will still recognize this variant, though they might not recognize it as well as other variants.”
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has been mutating as it spreads, just like other viruses. Many of the mutations do nothing and some might even impede the virus’s quest to replicate and spread. Scientists do think the coronavirus could eventually change so much that the immunity provided by vaccines will be threatened but they anticipate it could take years. Stay the course, get vaccinated, mask up and stay tuned!