Will the current vaccines protect against new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus?

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – With vaccines offering a potential end to the pandemic, a new worry has emerged: new variants of the coronavirus.

Tuesday, we learned cases of the variant first discovered in the United Kingdom have been found in Kentucky.

Gov. Beshear reports new COVID-19 numbers; more contagious variant confirmed in Kentucky

Infectious disease experts believe the new variant is more transmissible than the version that’s normally seen in the United States. However, so far, there’s no indication that it’s any more deadly.

A professor of molecular biochemistry at the University of Kentucky tells us the multiple variants that are emerging are being tracked across the globe. She told us it was expected that different versions of the coronavirus would begin to appear.

The question now for a lot of people is, will the vaccines that are being administered across the country offer protection against those variants?

Health leaders react to COVID variant in Kentucky

Dr. Charles Kennedy, an epidemiologist at Saint Joseph, said, so far, they believe they will.

“It’s everybody’s hope that the current vaccine strains basically will provide cross-reactivity and immunity against these variant strains,” Dr. Kennedy said. “But it’s important to keep in mind if there are vaccine preparations they were based on a genetic sequencing from a year ago.

On a practical level, that means the precautions we’ve been taking should continue, especially if that new variant is even more easily transmitted.

Experts at the University of Kentucky tell us it’s still unknown if people will have to get a COVID-19 vaccine every year to account for the different variants, or if the current vaccines will provide prolonged protection.

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