Chicago’s top doctor weighed in Thursday on the major differences between the COVID-19 and flu vaccines and whether or not a booster will be needed to better protect against COVID-19 and different variants in the future.
During a press conference on Thursday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady referenced a journal and went into detail describing the differences in vaccine protection between COVID-19 and the flu.
“They found that, that the influenza virus was getting about 25 mutations per 10,000 nucleotides,” Arwady said. “Whereas in comparison to Coronavirus and we're getting about six mutations over that same amount of genetic material per year.”
According to Arwady, that slower rate of mutation, is a good thing in terms of protecting against COVID-19.
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“It mutates much less quickly than the flu which is really good news,” Arwady said. “It's part of why in the real world protection has continued to be quite good.”
However, she said she’s unsure whether or not a booster will be needed in the future.
“You could need a booster because it does mutate, but at this point, it's not mutating anywhere near as quickly as flu, even though it's had so much opportunity to do so because it's spread across the whole world,” Arwady said.
If a booster is needed, Arwady said it would likely only be because the protections the COVID-19 vaccine offers are fading against the different or new variants of the virus.
On Thursday, health officials in Illinois reported 3,739 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours, with 34 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Thursday's new cases brought the state to 1,269,196 since the pandemic began last year. The number of new cases has continued to rise in recent weeks in the state, with some officials fearing that a new surge could be taking place even as vaccinations continue to rise.