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Professor in Florida says COVID-19 mutations will continue, but vaccines should still work

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TAMPA, Fla. — At least 50 cases of the Coronavirus mutation have been found in the United States, and almost half are in Florida.

But USF Professor Dr. Tom Unnasch says the virus is very good at what it does. Mutate.

“It’s not really a big surprise that we are starting to see these variants that are coming up that are making the virus more efficient," says Unnasch.

Experts say this mutation, first discovered in the UK is much more contagious than the original.

But Dr. Unnasch he’s confident the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations will work against it.

“It’s probably going to take those companies less than a week to modify that vaccine and get a new version out that will now attack the new mutated version.”

Dr. Unnasch says it’s likely there are more than 22 cases of the variant detected in Florida so far.

And he says mutations of this virus won’t end anytime soon.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a game of whack-a-mole like we have with influenza. Everybody has to get a new shot with influenza every year because it mutates every year.”

Despite the new challenges, Dr. Unnasch says he’s optimistic about how science is dealing with the pandemic.

But he does want to see the logistics of getting people vaccinated improve.

“The more people we can vaccinate and the more rapidly we can get them vaccinated, the more pressure we are going to put on the virus. And we may be able to push this down to a point where it’s not much of a health problem anymore.”

New research confirmed the Pfizer vaccine can protect against the mutation.

But it hasn’t been reviewed yet by outside experts.

This story was first published by Erik Waxler at WFTS in Tampa Bay, Florida.