UGA researchers looking into how long vaccines will last against COVID-19 and its variants

ATLANTA — A case of the coronavirus variant from Brazil is now in Minnesota, health officials confirmed on Tuesday. Researchers are closely watching another variant in South Africa.

Many people have questions about the emerging variants and how effective vaccines will be against them.

So far, the variant showing up the most in the U.S., including here in Georgia, is the variant initially found in the United Kingdom.

The director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunology at University of Georgia, Ted Ross, told Channel 2′s Carol Sbarge that it’s nice to see the current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still effective against the UK variant.

But will they be effective against other variants? Ross said both the Pfizer and Moderna technology is such that they’re able to swap out sequences for one virus genome for another to make a new vaccine quickly if needed.

TRENDING STORIES:

Moderna announced Monday it is starting to develop a booster if needed for the South African variant.

Ross told Sbarge that the quicker vaccines can get to people the better as we aim to reach herd immunity.

“The more people that get vaccinated, the more likely you’re going to break the chain of transmission and reduce ability of these viruses to infect people,” Ross said.

Ross said heard immunity will happen when about 75% of people are vaccinated.

His department at UGA is doing research to find out how long vaccines are effective in people.

They’ll be looking at the figures after six months, twelve months and even two years.