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Introduction to the Science Behind the Coronavirus, Series III: Mutations

More than nine months after the last installment of our “The Science Behind the Coronavirus” series, it’s time for another in-depth look at the evolution of the virus. In this introduction to our series, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the executive chairman of the Los Angeles Times, explains how the mutations that gave rise to variants of the coronavirus present new threats — and new challenges for scientists.

Dr. Soon-Shiong is a surgeon and scientist who has spent his career studying the human immune system to fight cancer and infectious disease. In mid-October, Soon-Shiong’s company, ImmunityBio, received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to begin Phase 1 trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. He has also received approval to begin trials in South Africa, where he will explore the potential of his T cell vaccine to prevent infection from these mutated virus strains.