According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as long as a virus is circulating from person to person, it’s bound to mutate into new strains over time. However, if viral transmission slows down or stops, so does the process that leads to new variants.
St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said that’s where vaccines come in. He said since the virus can’t circulate as easily among vaccinated people, getting the vaccine will ultimately prevent new variants from emerging.
“They will help decrease the conditions that allow different variants to flourish," Fox said. "The identification and increasing prevalence of these variants just underscore the importance of getting the vaccine.”
Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait said the current vaccines do provide some protection against variant strains. But, she said that could change if the virus continues to spread and mutate.
“We either let the variant change the virus so the vaccines are less effective or we get the vaccine [and] slow the spread, so then the virus doesn’t change,” Wait said.
Wait said health officials are “in a race” to vaccinate as many people as possible before even more variant strains emerge.
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