Testing coronavirus vaccine against new COVID-19 virus variant

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Even though we now have two authorized coronavirus vaccines and thousands of healthcare workers getting the shots, there is new concern about a mutation to the COVID-19 virus and if the vaccines will still work.

This new variant or mutation was first reported in the United Kingdom. Scientists there are saying there's no evidence that it causes any more severe illness, but it may be able to spread easier.

If true, that means the number of people infected from one person with the virus goes up from 1.1 to 1.5.

Pfizer and Moderna are testing their vaccine against this new variant. Researchers believe it will still work because the vaccines develops antibodies against multiple parts of what's known as the spike protein on the virus, not just this mutated part.

Officials with the World Health Organization say scientists are working to learn more, but also say it's important to know there have been several new variants reported over the past several months.

"No variant has established itself as having a higher level of severity or evading diagnosis or hiding from the vaccine or effectiveness of the vaccine," said Dr. Michael Ryan with the WHO.

Until we learn more, many countries are now banning flights from the UK or requiring passengers to have a negative COVID-19 test. The While House is considering a similar measure.

Doctor Anthony Fauci says the variant may already be here in the US, but not as prevalent as it is in the UK. He says it is common for viruses to mutate.

Scientists are working to find out more about the IMPACT of this one.
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