Cape Town is testing a Covid-19 vaccine designed to protect against new variants

Researchers in Cape Town are starting local clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine designed to protect people from infection caused by variants of the coronavirus, now and in the future.

The vaccine was developed by California-based biotechnology companies ImmunityBio and NantKwest. It targets both a protein known as a nucleocapsid, which coronaviruses use to infect their host, and the so-called spike protein zeroed in on by vaccines authorized for use already.

Scientists leading the trial say the nucleocapsid may be less likely to mutate than the spike protein, which since the start of the pandemic has changed in ways that lower the protection provided by vaccines that target the spike alone. The mutations have left countries racing to vaccinate people before variants of the virus emerge that could lower the efficacy of vaccines even further, or resist the shots entirely.

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