Health Advice



Vaccines and variants

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

Marvel Comics specializes in mutant superheroes -- from Hope Summers and Wolverine to Iceman and Storm. They're only scary to the bad guys. Mutant viruses, on the other hand, are more troubling, and we know COVID-19 is mutating:

There is the British variant (officially called B.1.1.7), the South African strain (B.1.351), the Brazilian one (P.1) and, as of this writing, mumblings about a home-grown American one in New York City (B.1.526). These variants may become harder for your immune system to detect or to attack. They can make the infection more easily transmitted or more severe.

The good news is that some of the current vaccines knock out some of the mutations. Correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine says that the Pfizer vaccine neutralizes both the British and Brazilian strains and is nearly as effective in countering the South African one. And Moderna announced it is shipping a vaccine that is tailored to knock out both the original and South African strains. Now, down the road, some folks may need booster shots (no big deal), but as we get to 80% to 90% vaccination rates, the virus will be less likely to mutate, since it will be reproducing less -- and that limits mutations.

So where does that leave you if you've been vaccinated or are thinking about getting vaccinated? Feeling delighted you got a vaccine or committed to getting one ASAP! Also, following social distancing rules, wearing a mask when out of the house and washing your hands frequently. That's really no strain at all. And check out info on variants at; search for "mutant strains."



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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