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Could future COVID-19 variants evade vaccines? What experts say

Duke health experts are concerned that any future coronavirus variant could evade the coronavirus vaccines

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An illustration of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Duke health experts are concerned that any future coronavirus variant could evade the coronavirus vaccines.

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

Future coronavirus variants could evade the COVID-19 vaccines, a health expert at Duke University recently warned.

The news: David Montefiori, a viral expert at Duke University, told WRAL that the current COVID-19 vaccines are working well against the current COVID-19 variants.

  • But a new mutation could spell doom for the vaccines, he said.


What he said: “We are seeing these new forms acquiring increased transmissibility and out-competing the earlier form,” he said. “We will continue to have omicron lineages that will evolve and hopefully not be able to evade the vaccines.”

  • Montefiori told WRAL immunity will wane and different variants will become dominant. There’s a chance our immunity will drop when a stronger variant arrives.
  • That’s why, he said, the vaccines need to be updated regularly.

Yes, but: The Duke health expert said that viruses often become less severe over time. And coronaviruses aren’t good at evading vaccines like the flu.

  • “I think this virus is always going to be with us,” Montefiori said. “I think it’s going to be something we have to live with.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief pandemic scientist for the White House, told BuzzFeed News that we should expect to see variants in the future.

  • “It’s really tough to say what is going to happen,” Fauci told BuzzFeed News. “But there are going to be new variants.”
  • He told BuzzFeed News that new COVID variants will rise up in places where “you have large pockets of unvaccinated people that give the virus room to evolve.”