Coronavirus: are vaccines effective against the South African version?

If the first data are relying on the effectiveness of vaccines against the English version of Coronavirus, it is now a concern rather than the South African version. According to several studies, it seems capable of avoiding the immunological protection provided by vaccination.

The E484K mutation, in question, exists on the South African variant, like Brazil, but not on the English strain. It is located at the level of the spike protein of the coronovirus, the tip that is on its surface and allows it to penetrate them to attach to human cells, therefore playing an important role in viral infection.

At the beginning of the month, laboratory tests showed that this mutation was able to decrease the recognition of the virus by antibodies, and so it became neutral.

A study by South African researchers, posted online on Wednesday and has not yet been evaluated by other scientists. She concludes that the South African version as a whole is “largely resistant to neutralizing antibodies extracted in response to infection by previously spreading strains”. Thus, the risk of revision by this version is “significant”, underlining the study. In detail, “these data have implications for the efficacy of vaccines”, explain the authors, as they are “mainly based on the immune response to spike proteins”.

Vaccine friendly?

The results, confirmed by another study by South African scientists, are not yet subject to peer review, according to which the South African strain, called 501Y.V2, “may survive the neutral response elicited by previous natural infections” . The authors also state that they are concerned with “potential reductions in protection against reassortment and vaccines designed to target spike proteins of earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2”.

From there it has now been concluded that vaccines are ineffective against the South African strain of coronovirus, still a step which the scientific community currently refuses to take. Other studies are indeed still in progress. But some public health experts are waiting in laboratories and are no longer developing platforms to adapt their vaccines if necessary. The messenger RNA technique used by Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna allows a primarily rapid adaptation. Thus, Bioentech co-director, Ugur Sahin ensured that he could prepare a new vaccine against the new variants in six weeks.

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