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New COVID-19 variant found in New York raising concerns about vaccine effectiveness

What makes this variant unique is that researchers are saying this mutation may weaken the effectiveness of the current COVID vaccines.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There are several variants many of us heard of and now there's an addition, the New York variant also known as B.1.526. 

The new COVID strain is causing individuals to have questions about vaccine effectiveness.

What makes this variant unique is that researchers are saying this mutation may weaken the effectiveness of the current COVID vaccines.

First Coast News spoke with a local health expert about a more in-depth look at the new variant.

"What we are seeing with some of these new variants is that the mutations are changing the spike protein that’s found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus," said Assistant Chief Medical Officer at UF Health Jacksonville, Dr. Chirag Patel.

Meaning you’re not going to have that memory response in your immune system as much as you did with the regular version of COVID-19.

“That’s what is decreasing the effectiveness or at least what people are speculating is going to decrease the effectiveness of these vaccines," said Dr. Patel. 

Dr. Patel, says Moderna has plans to change their vaccine in a way it teaches your body to make spike protein.

“It’s a matter of does it make sense for a thousand cases or when it finally hits a more staggering number will it make a response from the manufacturers to actually change the makeup from their vaccine," said Dr. Patel. 

Dr. Patel says while new variants are expected, they usually get weaker when they mutate but that’s not the case here.

“With the California variant as well as what we’re seeing with the South African variant they may be stronger than the original version,” said Dr. Patel. 

But to put an end to the potent variant it starts with us.

"If we want to avoid covid spreading, if we want to avoid having to get shots constantly we have to stop the spread and viruses can’t spread without a host," said Dr. Patel. 

This all comes down to doing our part in staying safe. Wearing your mask, social distancing, and washing hands constantly.