Coronavirus variant concerns: Can COVID-19 tests and vaccine keep up?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With COVID-19 variants emerging as the virus continues to spread, the race is on to vaccinate the country.

Eyewitness News spoke with Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist with UTHealth, about the efforts and what it all means for testing and vaccine. Jetelina said tests should be able to detect all COVID-19 infections but they won't be able to determine which variant is causing the infection.

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"The PCR tests will continue to tell us if you have coronavirus. Yes. No," said Jetelina. "What it won't tell us is the type of variant you have."

Jetelina said the coronavirus continues to change as it mutates over time. Those variants mean the vaccines will likely need to be re-worked in time.

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"It's not changing as quickly as the flu, but it is changing more quickly than, say, the measles, which hasn't changed since the 60s," said Jetelina. "So what that tells us is yes, we're going to have to change our vaccine formula down the road. When that is, we're not entirely sure. We think it may be around two years. It may be shorter. It may be longer."

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