Millions of Americans have been vaccinated with Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna's (NASDAQ:MRNA) COVID-19 vaccines. However, reports about a new variant of the novel coronavirus has raised concerns. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Jan. 6, 2021, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com writer Keith Speights discuss whether or not the new coronavirus strain might affect vaccines' efficacy.
Corinne Cardina: Let's talk about the variant of the coronavirus that is being called B117. So of course this is the strain that UK officials said it could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain. It has now been reported in, I think, maybe four U.S. states, and the people who have reported their virus was sequenced and identified as this, they were not traveling internationally, which means it's circulating in the community already.
Keith, what do we know about how the vaccines efficacy is going to impact this new strain? What have the experts said?
Keith Speights: So far the news has been good. All of the experts are saying at this point anyway that the vaccine should be effective against this B117 strain and that's good.
The bad news is it could change overtime with other strains but so far, there is no reason to think that Pfizer's vaccine or Moderna's vaccine or any of the others that could be on the way will be negatively affected by this new strain. But as you and I have talked in the past, Corinne, it's no surprise whatsoever that it's already spread. There's practically speaking no way to stop the spread of a new strain of virus like this.
Cardina: Certainly, and one question from Slido I think is relevant to this. Spice Guy asks: will the antibodies from the original strain of COVID be effective against the new mutant strains. So the same question but less about the vaccines and more naturally developed antibodies if you did get infected and recover.
Speights: That's a very good question, and the bad news there is that there are some concerns that the antibody therapies that have already been authorized such as Regeneron's therapy, that they might not be as effective against this new strain. So while the vaccines should still be good and have good efficacy at preventing infection, our ways of treating coronavirus infections could be diminished somewhat by this new strain.
Cardina: Yeah, and we still don't know about the immunity duration conferred by being infected and recovering. There have been plenty of cases where folks got COVID before, recovered, got it again, so getting it once and recovering doesn't necessarily mean that you are immune, so that's something to keep in mind as well.
Speights: Absolutely. In fact, I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday actually, and he works with someone who had COVID-19 in July I think, recovered and now has it again. So that's only a few months apart having two different cases.
Cardina: Yeah. I've heard tons of cases like that, so good to know.