COVID 19 Variant in South Africa Exposes Ineffectiveness of COVID Vaccines? As reported by Julia Belluz and Umair Irfan for Microsoft News and reproduced
Posted on January 22nd, 2021

By The Sri Lanka Study Circle 

https://www.msn.com/en-xl/northamerica/top-stories/why-scientists-are-more-worried-about-the-covid-19-variant-discovered-in-south-africa/ar-BB1d02fQ?ocid=msedgdhp

Why scientists are more worried about the Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa 

On January 15, US public health officials warned that a more contagious variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 could dominate infections in the United States by March. That grim warning referred to B.1.1.7, a variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom. 

But now, one week later, scientists are increasingly concerned about another variant that emerged in South Africa. 

There’s evidence from several small, and not-yet-peer-reviewed, studies that mutations in the South Africa variant — known as 501Y.V2 and already present in at least 23 countries — may have a higher risk of Covid-19 reinfection in people who’ve already been sick and still should have some immunity to the disease. 

a close up of a hand: The major concern is that Covid-19 mutations could undercut the effectiveness of the vaccines  

a close up of a hand: The major concern is that Covid-19 mutations could undercut the effectiveness of the vaccines.

.© Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images The major concern is that Covid-19 mutations could undercut the effectiveness of the vaccines. 

Scientists haven’t confirmed that this variant is more contagious, though evidence is pointing in this direction. They’re also concerned that 501Y.V2 could have implications for treatments for Covid-19. Regeneron, a company that has developed a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies as a therapy for patients with the illness, reported that 501Y.V2 may be able to evade one of the antibodies in its mix. The drug is still effective, but subsequent mutations could render it less so. 

But perhaps most alarming is the prospect that the mutations in the variant could limit the effectiveness of existing vaccines, one of the best tools we have for controlling the pandemic. 

The results of these recent studies are a serious indication we have to look hard at how well vaccines might work,” Penny Moore, a virologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, told Vox. Taken together, they highlight the dangers of letting Covid-19 spread unchecked and also portend the challenges that lie ahead as the virus continues to evolve. 

What the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant might mean for Covid-19 vaccines 

Moore is the lead author of a new study on 501Y.V2, out Tuesday as a preprint on BioRxiv. She and her team in South Africa took blood plasma samples from 44 people who had been infected with the coronavirus during the country’s first wave of infections last summer and then checked how their existing antibodies responded to 501Y.V2 as well as older variants. 

The researchers sorted the plasma samples into categories — high and low antibody concentrations. Though antibodies can wane after infection, that doesn’t necessarily mean that protection fades completely. Another recent study showed that immunity stemming from infection lasts at least five months in most people, so the antibodies in those who’ve had the virus should still shield against earlier versions of the virus if someone is infected again. 

In 21 cases — nearly half — the existing antibodies were powerless against the new variant when exposed in test tubes. This was especially true for plasma from people who had a mild previous infection, and lower levels of antibodies, to begin with. 

The findings suggest immunity from previous versions of the virus might not help individuals fend off the new variant if they’re exposed, particularly if their prior case was mild or symptom-free. 

For Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center scientist Trevor Bedford, who was not involved in the research, the study also came as a possible warning sign about the vaccines. As early as autumn this year, manufacturers may need to begin reformulating their shots to respond to the changes in the virus’s genetic code, he wrote on Twitter: 

One Response to “COVID 19 Variant in South Africa Exposes Ineffectiveness of COVID Vaccines? As reported by Julia Belluz and Umair Irfan for Microsoft News and reproduced”

  1. . Says:

    Comments received from the author of the blog indicated above write-up: Dr. David Grime, a well-respected senior physician in the U.K.

    “The case rate (incidence of COVID-19) has started to increase in Andalucía from mid-January, but not the ICU admissions or deaths. The latter decline was most likely to be due to an increase in vitamin D status.
    It appears that the third wave of COVID-19 cases started in Andalucía.
    It could be just case-finding with the recent increase in PCR testing and a new mutation (as with the U.K.) from South America, under investigation (second Cordoba study).

    During the last seven days, in Andalucía, around 200 people died due to COVID, whereas Catalonia 200 is dying each day [http://www.drdavidgrimes.com/2021/01/covid-19-and-vitamin-d-miracle-in.html].
    Had a decline in cases not occurred in December/January following calcifediol administration, the third wave’s escalation would have merged with the second and would not have noticeably. Watch this space.”
    David

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