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COVID-19 mutations: what do they mean for vaccine science?

Some mutations in the COVID-19 virus affect its antigenic phenotype - its potential escape from immunity raised by prior infection or vaccination.

On Monday 19 April Derek Smith, Professor of Infectious Disease Informatics at Cambridge University, spoke about the science of figuring this out, what is known so far, and what effect it might have on vaccination strategies. He will compared this evolutionary process to that of other pathogens such as influenza viruses, and answered questions from an online audience.

Professor Smith said: "The bottom line is that there are variants of Covid-19 around the world that have changed in a way that escapes immunity, and it's quite clear that some of them have changed a fair amount. What we don't know yet, is how much this matters."

More about the speaker:

Derek Smith is Professor of Infectious Disease Informatics in the Zoology Department at Cambridge University. He is also a member of the Department of Virology at Erasmus Medical Center in The Netherlands. 

He is an advisor to the World Health Organization, is a member of its influenza vaccine strain selection committee, and is also involved in vaccine strain selection for other human and non-human pathogens. 

His research is focused on how pathogens evolve, to what extent this evolution is predictable, and determining public and animal health measures against such ever-changing pathogens.

The recording of Professor Smith's talk and Q&A session is now available to watch.

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