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Vaccines may need regular updates as coronavirus evolves, say scientists

The study, published in the journal Virus Evolution, assessed whether, over the long term, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to demonstrate an immune evasion capability on par with that of influenza viruses.

March 27, 2021 / 03:32 PM IST
A health worker checks the Covishied, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, as she prepares to start vaccination against COVID-19 in Kathmandu, Nepal January 27, 2021. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar)

A health worker checks the Covishied, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, as she prepares to start vaccination against COVID-19 in Kathmandu, Nepal January 27, 2021. (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar)

Scientists have assessed the course of evolution of the novel coronavirus and predicted that COVID-19 vaccines currently in use across the world may need regular updates to counter new variants of the virus which are capable of escaping the body's protective antibodies.

The study, published in the journal Virus Evolution, assessed whether, over the long term, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to demonstrate an immune evasion capability on par with that of influenza viruses.

In the research, virologists from Charite -- Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany studied the genetic evolution of the four currently known 'common cold' coronaviruses, particularly the two longest-known viruses, 229E and OC43.

They traced changes in the spike protein of the these coronaviruses, which enable them to enter host cells, approximately 40 years into the past.