The studies are reassuring, but they indicate that the Eek mutation is one to watch, said Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

“This could certainly be a step toward the virus becoming somewhat more resistant to infection- and vaccine-mediated immunity,” Dr. Bloom said. “I don’t think it’s something that people need to immediately become alarmed about, but it definitely impresses us as important.”

Dr. Bloom led the analysis comparing vaccine-induced antibodies with those produced by natural infection. He found that the most powerful antibodies bind to multiple sites in a key part of the virus. Even if a mutation affects the binding in one site in this region, antibodies that target the remaining sites would still be protective.

Antibodies induced by the vaccine cover many more sites across this region than those from natural infection — and so are less likely to be affected by a mutation in any one site.

The study looked only at antibodies stimulated by the Moderna vaccine, but the results are likely to be the same for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, he added.

“This could potentially be a good thing as the virus is creating mutations,” Dr. Bloom said.

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