Will vaccines protect from the variants? The answer is “yes”

The good news keeps coming on the authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The current data suggests the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. offer protection against severe illness and death caused by all variants of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, May 12, OHA Senior Health Advisor Melissa Sutton and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) assistant professor of medicine (infectious disease) Bill Messer answered questions on the variants on a Facebook Live. You can view the video in Spanish or English.

Time stamps for the questions are below:

9:26 – Are the vaccinated causing the variants? Are they asymptomatic spreaders?

10:21 – What’s the difference between variants of concern and variants of interest?

11:40 – If the vaccines work against the variants, why are we not seeing a decrease in cases?

13:23 – How many variants are circulating in Oregon, and do we know if the vaccine covers the variants?

14:55 – How can you know that the increase in cases is due to variants?

15:45 – Does B.1.1.7 spread more easily outdoors, or is it still transmitted more easily indoors?

16:55 – How are these COVID-19 variants any different than the variants of the flu each year?

18:59 – Are variants detected by a standard COVID-19 test?

19:46 – Are you taking random samples of positive tests for sequencing, or are you limiting sequencing to breakthrough cases?

21:49 – If the vaccine doesn’t stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus, it just reduces the symptoms of COVID-19, how are the people doing symptoms-wise with these new variants?

23:33 – Wouldn’t the OHA Variants Dashboard be more useful if variants were expressed as percentages of total sequenced samples at all Oregon sequencing labs, plus the variations of these percentages with time, say per week or month?

24:40 – How long will the vaccine be effective against the variants?

This article first appeared in the May 14, 2021 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.