WASHINGTON — Will coronavirus be the new flu? As new strains of the virus pop up, several drug companies have already started making and adjusting their vaccines or making boosters.
This has led many people to wonder if we will have to get a different vaccine for each strain or get a new vaccine each year.
Will we need a vaccine booster for every new strain of the virus?
We won’t know for some time.
Dr. David Dowdy, an Epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. William Schaffner, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Robert Amler, a former CDC Epidemiologist and Dean at New York Medical School.
What We Found:
“The answer is, 'yes' and 'no,'” Dr. Amler explained.
“With COVID, we'll just have to follow what happens,” Dr. Schaffner followed up.
“It doesn't mean that each new strain is going to be resistant if you will to any vaccine,” Dr. Dowdy finished.
As you can see the consensus is: We don’t know yet.
But let’s breakdown why we don’t know. Each year, you get a new flu vaccine because influenza is an unstable virus.
“On the other hand, measles, also a virus, is really very stable,” Dr. Schaffner compared. “So the vaccine we used 40 years ago, works perfectly fine.”
“I think it's important for people to realize that the mutation rate for the coronavirus is not as high as for the flu,” Dr. Dowdy explained.
The coronavirus ranks somewhere in the middle of a stable virus-like measles and the always mutating virus influenza.
Whether or not each strain and each year requires a different vaccine or a booster, is still being studied.
“If we see changes, and if we see a loss of efficacy against some of the newer strains, then a newer brand of vaccine or a newer preparation of vaccine may be necessary,” Dr. Amler said.
“I would anticipate we may need to be updated every few years, but probably not every single year, and certainly not with every single stream,” Dr. Dowdy said.