COVID-19 may be a few mutations away from evading vaccines

COVID-19 may be a few mutations away from evading vaccines

COVID-19 may be “just a few mutations” away from being able to evade vaccines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Tuesday.

Walensky said the current vaccines are effective against severe cases of the coronavirus, including those caused by its known variants, but its continuing spread could allow the disease to mutate beyond the immunizations’ protection.

“The largest concern that I think we in public health and sciences are worried about is that virus and potential mutations … [have] the potential to evade our vaccine in terms of how it protects us from severe disease and death,” Walensky said at a press briefing.

“Right now, fortunately, we are not there. These vaccines operate really well in protecting us from severe disease and death. But the big concern is the next area that might emerge, just a few mutations potentially away, could potentially evade our vaccines.”

The agency chief said the possibility is even more reason for people to get vaccinated — so that the virus can finally be off at the pass before it mutates into something that requires another vaccine.

The CDC on Tuesday issued new indoor mask guidelines designed to help slow the spread of the virus in places experiencing surges in cases.

“In areas with substantial and time transmission, CDC recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings to help prevent the spread of the Delta variant and protect others,” Walensky said, referring to the highly contagious strain that comprises an estimated 83 percent of new cases nationwide.

Health officials have stressed that rising coronavirus case numbers in the US are being driven by unvaccinated Americans.

Currently, people who are not vaccinated are responsible for around 99.5 percent of COVID-19 deaths and 97 percent of hospitalizations, officials said.

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