(CNN) – Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to know in the next few days if there’s a concern that the coronavirus vaccines might not work against a mutated variant of the virus that’s rapidly spreading in parts of England, according to the institute’s top vaccine researcher.
While there’s always a worry that a vaccine won’t work if a virus mutates significantly, the Walter Reed scientists still expect the vaccine will be effective against this new variant, said Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
“It stands to reason that this mutation isn’t a threat, but you never know. We still have to be diligent and continue to look,” Michael said.
On Thursday, the Walter Reed team started examining genetic sequences of the new UK variant posted online by British researchers.
They’re doing a computer analysis as a first step.
“The computer analysis will allow us to gauge how much concern we should have,” Michael said. “Other teams around the world are doing this analysis, too.”
If the computer analysis show there’s a concern, then studies would need to be done in the laboratory and in animals to more definitively determine if the vaccine will work on this variant.
At a press conference Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new holiday lockdowns in parts of England that have seen the spread of the new mutation.
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