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Evolving Strains of Coronavirus and Their Effects on Current Vaccines

A new study on evolving strains of Covid-19 and currently available vaccines suggests that these vaccines provide less neutralizing effects against the recently detected South Africa and the U. K variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Coronavirus illustration (stock image).

Credit: © Antonio Rodriguez / stock.adobe.com

A new study regarding recently detected variants of Covid-19 in the U.K and South Africa named SARS-CoV-2 results in proving less combating effects of current vaccines and monoclonal antibodies against these modified strains which are present with the threat of reinfections to be more likely to happen.

The study was published in Nature on March 8, 2021. A preprint of that study was also posted to BioRxiv on January 26, 2021.

The company reported about the results of the effectiveness of current vaccines against variants on January 28 that the vaccine was 90% effective against the U.K variant trial but it was only 49.4% effective against the South Africa variant trial, where most of the cases of COVID-19 are caused by the B. 1.351 variant.

Study Verdict

Ho, the director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and Clyde’56 and Helen Wu Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons said that “Our study and the new clinical trial data show that the virus is traveling in a direction that is causing it to escape from our current vaccines and therapies that are directed against the viral spike”.

Ho says in another statement “ “If the rampant spread of the virus continues and more critical mutations accumulate, then we may be condemned to chasing after the evolving SARS-CoV-2 continually, as we have long done for influenza virus, Such considerations require that we stop virus transmission as quickly as is feasible, by redoubling our mitigation measures and by expediting vaccine rollout.”

Vaccine Role

As we all know after vaccination, the immune system becomes active and starts to produce antibodies against the virus to neutralize its damaging effects.

After injecting the modern vaccine against variants the Ho and his team found antibodies less effective in the blood sample of England Variants emerged last September B.1.351 emerged from the South Africa variant emerged in late 2020. The effects were found dropping 2 folds against the U.K variant but against the South Africa variant neutralization dropped by 6.5 to 8.5-fold.

The exact statement of Ho was like that “ The approximately 2-fold loss of neutralizing activity against the U.K. variant is unlikely to have an adverse impact due to the large ‘cushion’ of residual neutralizing antibody activity, and we see that reflected in the Novavax results where the vaccine was 85.6% effective against the U.K. variant.”

The team and Ho found that the vaccine was less protective against the South Africa variants.

The new study examined all the mutations that occurred in the Spike’s of corona protein that causes vaccine less effective against it by combining the samples taken from infected people from 2019 and people vaccinated with a current modified vaccine containing antibodies against covid-19.

About the treatment strategies, Ho says in a statement “ “Decisions of the use of these treatments will depend heavily on the local prevalence of the South Africa and Brazil variants, highlighting the importance of viral genomic surveillance and proactive development of next-generation antibody therapeutics.”

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