Microbiology Acting Assistant Professor Dr Jesse Erasmus Featured on Local News

Scientists in Washington researching COVID-19 Omicron variant to help protect public

"The alarming thing is we didn’t see a lot of these mutations in related viruses. Usually viruses accumulate mutations over time, and so we could kind of track as mutations emerge, and we see more and more over time. But there was this gap, and as soon Omicron was sequenced, all of these new mutations popped up. So, there’s a lot of questions going around as to how that happened," said Dr. Jesse Erasmus, acting assistant professor at UW Medicine.

Dr. Erasmus is also the Director of Virology at HDT Bio, a Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company working to address unmet needs in treating cancers and infectious diseases around the world. He has also been conducting COVID-19 research in Seattle throughout the pandemic. With questions surrounding Omicron, Dr. Erasmus said vaccines remain the best defense against coronavirus. 

"The quickest way that we could see ourselves out of this pandemic. However, it does require that we get vaccinations up to much higher levels than where they are right now," said Dr. Erasmus.

He said part of his Omicron research is evaluating variant-specific versions of the current vaccines.

"Big question is how we can design booster vaccines to better respond to these variants, but also how existing vaccines are able to protect against this particular variant," said Dr. Erasmus.

Publication Date: 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021