Vaccines, therapeutics should still be effective against new coronavirus strand, San Antonio doctor says

Doctor: While new variant is more infectious, it is not more deadly

As a new variant of COVID-19 surges in Europe — leading to flight bans and other restrictions — there is local concern about how the new vaccines and other drugs previously rolled out will respond to the new strand.

Brad Collins was diagnosed with COVID-19 around Thanksgiving and says he had a 100-plus degree fever for 16 days. He’s now tested negative for the disease, but his battle to regain full health isn’t over.

“I have pneumonia in both lungs as a result of COVID, which I’m still you know, I’ve got another couple of weeks of recovery for that,” Collins said.

Collins is keeping a close eye on news surrounding a new strand of COVID-19 that has led to major restrictions in parts of Europe where those cases are surging. Here in Texas though, Collins is staying optimistic, clinging to advice from doctors.

“It makes me look a little bit forward to a vaccine,” Collins said.

Dr. Douglas Denham, who oversaw Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials at Clinical Trials of Texas, says he’s not alarmed by news of the variant.

“All viruses tend to mutate,” Denham said. “I think right now the vaccine should continue to work well.”

Denham says the latest variant of the coronavirus appears to be more easily transmittable.

“Easier for it to get into our cells and replicate and then infect someone else,” Denham said.

However, Denham says it doesn’t appear to be more deadly.

Also, while research must continue, it appears previously rolled out therapeutic drugs such as Regeneron’s antibody cocktail and Bamlanivimab will also still be effective against the new variant, Denham said.

Collins says he’s not going to worry, but instead continue to heed the advice of health experts.

“I certainly don’t want to go through it again. So I’ll be continuing to fall into the COVID regulations to try not to get anything,” Collins said.