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Getting a vaccine will help reduce new variant mutations: infectious disease specialist

Last Updated Mar 27, 2021 at 11:20 am MDT

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19. According to research released in 2021, evidence is mounting that having COVID-19 may not protect against getting infected again with some of the new variants. People also can get second infections with earlier versions of the coronavirus if they mounted a weak defense the first time. (Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Alberta continues to see a rise of variant cases, with the province reporting 191 new variant cases on Thursday.

But, as the vaccine rollout continues across the province, one infectious disease researcher says there is some good news moving forward.

“So far, it seems the evidence is the vaccine works as well, or nearly as well, against that B.1.1.7 variant as against the previous pre-dominant strains,” Dr. Jim Kellner with the University of Calgary said.

Dr. Kellner says this is why it’s so important to go out and get a vaccine, as doing so will help keep the virus from mutating even further.

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“Eventually, as vaccines help us get on top of the number of cases, even if it doesn’t perfectly control and eliminate SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 infections, it will dramatically reduce the amount of virus that is growing and replicating around the world, and therefore will dramatically reduce the likelihood of new, worrisome variants coming forth,” Dr. Kellner said.

He adds that as vaccines are more widely distributed, it will also help from more variants from coming forward in the future.

When it comes to the vaccine’s ability to fight any of the variants of concern, Dr. Kellner says for the short term, vaccines will be able to fight the virus, for longer-term though, any ability to fight the virus and hold it off has yet to be seen.

“We do have to be concerned about whether the predominant strains will remain susceptible to the vaccines. The B.1.351 (variant) looks like it’s more of a problem in terms of how well the vaccines are going to work against it and we simply don’t know for the other variants that are out there yet.”

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Dr. Kellner says that as we move forward in our fight against this virus, we have a lot of things working in our favour should we be faced with a third wave, things like contact tracing, testing, and isolation protocols that the province is much more prepared for this time around.

As for reduced restrictions, he says it was the right move on the province’s part to keep things locked down a little while longer as the B.1.1.7 variant is more contagious as has been said time and time again.