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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

What the emerging new strain of the Coronavirus means for the vaccine

A local doctor explains what's in the COVID-19 vaccine and how it works.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine remain.

It's the first vaccine without a living virus, but some are concerned over what's in the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This vaccine is the result of, really, some genetic engineering. They are able to sequence the virus, decode it and find the genetic code  for just a part of the virus, specifically the spike that is located on the outside of the virus," said Dr. Bruce Randolph of the Shelby County Health Department.

He says that's the part of the virus that attaches to the human cell.

Worried the vaccine arrived too soon?

COVID-19 may have entered American consciousness about 9 months ago, but scientists have studied different forms of the Coronavirus for years.

The variations go back some 10-thousand years.

Researchers are also keeping an eye on a new variant called B-1-17 found in a few states, but not yet in Tennessee.

"This particular virus is five times more easier to transmit than the Coronavirus we are dealing with at the current time," said Randolph.  

For example, Randolph explains if COVID-19 takes 100 droplets for infection, this new strain might only take 10.

With 72-thousand COVID cases just reported in Shelby County a new strain would cause great concern.

"If this variant strain hit Shelby County those number could be as much as 5 times higher," said Randolph.

Researchers believe the current vaccine will provide immunity for that new strain.

the Memphis-Shelby County task force are urging everybody to get educated, talk to your doctor, get  vaccinated and keep up with your card.

"You would be able to go wherever and present your card and say I need my second dose and the provider would know exactly when you last received, if it's indeed time for you to receive your second dose and what vaccine you received  because you shouldn't mix them."