Scientist worry about new COVID-19 strain known as the ‘escape mutant’

Watch: Scientist worry about new COVID-19 strain known as the ‘escape mutant’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some scientists are worried the new COVID-19 strain known as the “escape mutant” from South Africa could decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Morgan Jones argued the vaccine will still work because the new strain is very similar to the original one.

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“The immune response that your body builds is based off a spike protein that has a certain shape so because of that we believe the body should still have an immune response,” said Jones.

Jones works at Methodist Hospital and said the new COVID-19 strain from South Africa and the U.K. are more contagious but the current COVID vaccines will still protect people from the mutations.

Jones said if the new variants do get to the Mid-South, it will make a major impact on hospitals.

“If we are spreading it to more people that will undoubtedly burden our healthcare system even more than they are right now,” said Jones.

Some scientists argue the “escape mutation” or a combination of mutations could decrease the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Jones emphasized that this isn’t likely.

He said if this does happen, researchers would be able to adjust just like they handle new flu strains.

“Researchers are working around the clock to ensure these vaccines are safe and effective not only against the original strand of the coronavirus but any possible mutation,” said Jones.

Jones said medical experts are most scared of the unknown.

We are learning more about COVID-19 every day but it could take some time and research before we fully understand it.

“We are in a world right now where we always had variants of viruses in this way but in the middle of the pandemic we are being given more information about this to make us all more aware,” said Jones.

“The reality is we don’t know until we have more research on this subject.”

Right now doctors said they do not believe the South Africa or U.K COVID variant is in Memphis but the Shelby County Health Department is preparing for when and if that time comes.