Approved Vaccines 'Respond' to All COVID-19 Variants So Far: WHO
FRIDAY, May 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccines approved for use in the United States and Europe show protection against all of the more infectious coronavirus variants known to be circling the globe, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
"All COVID-19 virus variants can be controlled in the same way, with public health and social measures," European Regional Director Hans Kluge said during a media briefing, CBS News reported. "All COVID-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available approved vaccines."
Since January, four variants of concern, including the one bringing India to its knees at the moment, have been monitored by health officials around the world, Kluge said. Known as B.1.617, the Indian variant has been detected in 44 different countries, according to a recent weekly epidemiological update from the WHO, CBS News reported.
"For the time being, we can say that all the four variants do respond to the vaccines made available, as of today," Kluge said. "But the best way to counteract is to speed up the vaccination rollout."
Unknown variants of the virus could still emerge and be resistant to existing vaccines, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine said. And experts noted that variant B.1.351, which first emerged in South Africa, might be resistant to some vaccines in development and that mutations like it are still being studied, CBS News reported. Should existing vaccines fail to protect against any emerging variants in the future, the WHO stated that "it will be possible to change the composition of the vaccines to protect against these variants."