Booster vaccine doses will likely be needed to stay on top of SARS-CoV-2 changes, Sharon Peacock, who heads COVID-19 Genomics UK, tell Reuters.
"We already are tweaking the vaccines to deal with what the virus is doing in terms of evolution — so there are variants arising that have a combination of increased transmissibility and an ability to partially evade our immune response," she tells it.
According to Reuters, COG-UK has sequenced nearly 350,000 viral genomes, and such efforts have helped uncover viral variants. The UK announced its identification of B.1.1.7 in December 2020. Subsequent studies have indicated that this variant, which has since been found across the globe, including the US, is more transmissible and more deadly.
But Peacock tells Reuters she is most concerned about the B.1.351 variant, which was first uncovered in South Africa, as it contains a E484K mutation that has been linked to reduced immunity. Further, more variants could arise. She adds that booster shots would be needed to deal with future variants and developed at speed.