Science has delivered some incredible achievements in the fight against Covid-19, not least of which is the swift development of several highly effective vaccines. The question is, will the shots continue to offer strong protection even as the Sars-CoV-2 virus mutates and evolves?
We’ve already seen virus variants sprout up, from B.1.1.7 in the U.K. to B.1.351 in South Africa and P.1 in Brazil. Now we have B.1.617 in India and two variants — B.1.429 and B.1.232 — in California. Some of these variants have been found to be more contagious and potentially deadlier than the original strain, and more variants are sure to arise in any country or region where the virus is left to multiply and infect people at a high rate. Even in places where the virus seems to be under control, variants are a worry. In Israel, there have been reports of “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated people, mostly of the B.1.351 variant. These are big concerns. But there are hopeful signs that vaccine science is staying ahead of the variants in the most important ways.