As governments prepare to live with COVID-19, some are questioning how much to rely on drugmakers to adapt vaccines to ward off future virus variants amid signs of tension between companies and regulators over the best approach, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

Some vaccine experts say government agencies should fund and help develop a new generation of COVID-19 shots and seek innovation from smaller developers, as they did to identify current vaccines.

"We have established a research infrastructure that could do this relatively reasonably rapidly if we primed the pump and created the same kind of plan for second-generation vaccines as we did for the first-generation vaccines," said Dr. Larry Corey, a virologist who is overseeing U.S. government-backed COVID-19 vaccine trials.