What Is An Escape Variant? What Scientists Are Saying About Whether Current Vaccines Will Work Against New Variant

What Is An Escape Variant? What Scientists Are Saying About Whether Current Vaccines Will Work Against New Variant

escape variant

What Is An Escape Variant? What Scientists Are Saying About Whether Current Vaccines Will Work Against New Variant. Photo: Cedric Daniels, 37, of Gonzales, La., rests in his room, recovering from covid-19 at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La., Aug. 2, 2021.(AP Photo/Ted Jackson)

Just as we seem to get closer to achieving a new normal in dealing with the coronavirus, another challenge pops up. Scientists and the medical industry are scrambling to deal with delta, omicron and the looming escape variant. Drugmakers are looking to see if current vaccines will combat the new variants.

Escape variants are different forms of the virus with the ability to evade immunity that people acquire through vaccines and previous infections. Scientists have not identified any escape variants yet but omicron, also known as B.1.1.529, could become an escape variant, Forbes reported. Scientists just don’t know yet.

Escape variants are a serious future threat because they will be hard to control, according to experts. Escape variants are viruses that evolve in the environment of the body and produce a strong enough immune response to tamp down the infection but not strong enough to keep mutated viruses from spreading, according to the University of Washington (UW).

“How do we overcome escape variants? We do so by using the full strength of the tools we have available to us,” wrote Dr. Larry Corey, professor of the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology at UW, in a recent covid-19 Vaccine Matters blog jointly produced by Johns Hopkins University and the UW. “We provide immunity that is capable of eliminating the virus quickly, and we don’t expose the virus to lots of people with low levels of immunity,” Corey wrote.

Scientists fear that the current vaccines, which were designed to battle the original versions of covid-19, won’t be able to deal with escape variants. According to Corey, the coronavirus variants currently spreading require a stronger vaccine.

“I say that because the viruses we’re going to encounter today and what we will encounter in the next several months are not the same viruses that we tested the vaccines on and upon which the single-dose (strategy)data are based; they are going to be more formidable adversaries,” wrote Corey.

The medical field is already trying to combat delta and omicron, let alone deal with possible future escape variants.

CNBC senior health & science reporter Meg Tirrell, tweeted about the battle to fight Omicron, “What vaccine makers are saying about B.1.1.529: -Moderna notes it’s shown it can get into clinic (human trials) within 60 days; question is regulatory process from there. Manufacturing new doses could take a few months. -BioNTech expects lab data within 2 weeks (1/2)

She added, “What vaccine makers are saying about B.1.1.529 (cont): -lab data will tell BioNTech whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant -Pfizer/BioNTech can adapt mRNA vaccine within 6 weeks, ship initial batches within 100 days in event of escape variant.”

Vaccine manufacturers are coordinating with federal regulators and streamlining internal workflows to get out new vaccines faster, Medical News Today reported.

Virgin Media News political correspondent Gavan Reilly tweeted, “NEW: Pfizer says that if B.1.1.529 is found to be a “vaccine-escape variant”, a tailor-made vaccine to address it could be issued within 100 days.”

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