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Is the vaccine effective against the new strain of COVID?

A COVID testing site in King County. (Seattle-King County Public Health, Facebook)

The new strain of COVID-19 that first appeared in the United Kingdom has now been detected in Snohomish County, and is expected to be the dominant strain in the United States. To discuss the current state of cases and the efficacy of vaccines against any strains of the virus, Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News.

“Within just a little over a month, that mutation of the virus has become the dominant strain in the UK, and it’s expected to be the dominant strain in the United States by March,” Dr. Cohen said. “Now, currently, as of Friday, there’s only been 195 cases detected and 22 states within the United States, now including Oregon and Washington. Having said that, it is probably much more widely present, it just hasn’t been identified.”

Is the vaccine that we already have at all effective against this new COVID strain? Early studies appear promising.

“It’s more than just the vaccine, but it’s also whether or not the antibodies that people who have had the disease are capable of fighting off these new variants,” Dr. Cohen explained. “And we do know that coronaviruses do not produce very strong responses.”

Mercer Island MD: Second dose of COVID vaccine may cause temporary ‘fluish symptoms’

“This new variant from the UK is called B.1.1.7. It accounts now for over 60% of all the coronavirus cases identified in London,” he added. “It appears from studies that have been done so far, and from other information, that the vaccine is effective against this British variant. Pfizer has done a lot of testing and been able to demonstrate that that’s the case, and Moderna is in the process of doing that right now as well.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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