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UVA doctor says mRNA vaccines could be the key to fighting off different COVID-19 variants

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Dr. Bill Petri with University of Virginia Health believes mRNA vaccines are the best thing since sliced bread. That’s because this type of shot can be recreated to fight off other common viral diseases.

“This ability to swap out like the latest variant is very real and that’s in clinical trials,” Petri said.

Petri says for more than a decade the National Institutes of Health has been funding research to develop these mRNA vaccines.

“I’m hoping that what we’re going to see is like much better vaccines against other viral diseases like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus from this advance of mRNA vaccines because what it does is the mRNA and code spike glycoprotein is made by the virus, that’s what gets injected into your arm,” Petri said. “We could put in the delta version of the spike glycoprotein and in fact, Pfizer and Moderna are doing that right now and that’s in clinical trials to see how well that that works to protect against delta,” Petri said.

But time is ticking to produce specific COVID mRNA vaccines as more variants emerge and the effectiveness of the shot wanes.

“Today, the CDC reported that healthcare workers are only seeing 66% protection now with a vaccine from getting symptoms of COVID-19, so not just asymptomatic infection, but symptomatic where it used to be 90% after getting the vaccine,” Petri said.

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