The world celebrated the approval of multiple vaccines against the COVID-19 virus. Almost simultaneously to that, however, news was emerging concerning variants to the virus, first in London and South Africa, but eventually here in the U.S., as well. Some are more transmissible, and just as deadly. Urgent care patients are naturally curious about whether the currently available vaccines offer protection against them. The answer is an unsatisfying “that depends.” According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, there’s evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not effective against the B.1.351 variant (the one that was first identified in South Africa). On the other hand, the vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are found to work well against the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom. Multiple manufacturers are scrambling to find a solution, but in the meantime we need to rely on the solid evidence that all the approved vaccines work well to some degree against the original COVID-19 virus that has already killed millions of Americans.
COVID-19 Vaccines Work—but Are Hit-or-Miss Against Emerging Variants