How easy will it be to update the COVID vaccine if the virus mutates too much?

As the virus infects more people, it’s starting to change. If one of the new variants can evade the vaccines, is it a fixable problem? Yes—though it might take some time.

After a much more contagious coronavirus variant was discovered in the U.K. in December, scientists at Pfizer and Moderna started to study whether their newly approved vaccines would still work against it. So far, it seems likely that the vaccines will still be effective. But new variants continue to be discovered, including one in California linked to large outbreaks and one in South Africa that initial studies show may be resistant to the antibodies created by earlier strains.

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