The variant was first spotted in South Africa in October and is now found in more than a dozen countries.
In both studies, work was done in the laboratory and not in people, so more research is needed to understand the real danger of the new version.
“I think evidence is building that these mutations – and I think other mutations – will emerge worldwide – and are already emerging – that are escaping antibodies from previous infections,” Alex Siegel, A Virologist Research Institute on Africa Health and Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology told CNN. “It belongs.”
It is unclear whether this means someone would be unsafe for the new version if they already had Kovid-19, or it could mean those who have been vaccinated.
Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said, “When you see two groups independently arriving at the same basic answer, that’s good – their consensus is more correct.”
That study looked at different types of fewer mutations than South African studies.
None of the studies were reviewed or published in medical journals.
Although scientists find out whether these variants are particularly dangerous – and studies are underway in many laboratories around the world – one thing is clear: get vaccinated if you can.
“I’m sure if I could get it, it would be” Sigal said. “My father-in-law had the opportunity to fly to Israel and get it, and I was driving him out of the house because you can’t get it in South Africa.”
Trio of studies
In his research, Sigal found that antibodies to all six study subjects failed to fully fight the new variant.
“One participant had a fairly good response, but no one escaped it,” he said.
The study was posted on the website for KRISP, KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform. The other two studies were posted on pre-print servers.
In a study of similar findings, blood was drawn from 44 people in South Africa who had Kovid-19. Nearly all cases were confirmed before September, before variants were discovered in South Africa.
The researchers then looked at whether their antibodies would fight the new version.
For half of the 44 people, their antibodies were powerless against the new variant. For the other half, the antibody response was weakened, but not completely knocked out.
In a third study, done at Rockefeller University, researchers looked at the blood of 20 people who had received either the Modern or Pfizer vaccines. Differential mutations in the virus allowed certain types of antibodies to escape, but the immune system of the volunteers threw an army of different types of antibodies onto the virus.
The Rockefeller study looked at fewer mutations than the two South African studies. It sees three major mutations on the spike that sit atop the coronovirus, as it is part of the virus targeted by the vaccine.
“It’s useful, but still not the whole story,” said John Moore, vaccine researcher at Weil Cornell Medicine.
The South African study, however, used the virus, or a model of it, containing eight spike mutations.