Johannesburg, 5 January (Reuters) – A type of coronovirus first discovered in South Africa is unlikely to completely rule out the immunological effects of vaccines, a researcher studying it told Reuters.
British scientists expressed concern on Monday that COVID-19 vaccines may not be able to protect against variants identified by South African genomics scientists and which have spread internationally.
Richard Lassells, an infectious disease specialist from the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, who played a central role in identifying the version called 501Y.V2, said his understanding was not based on any new data but was shared. Information.
“They are expressing the same concerns that we expressed when we first released this information that the pattern of mutations gave us concern,” Lesells said on Tuesday.
South African researchers are studying the effects of mutations in variants, including whether natural immunity resulting from exposure to older variants provides protection against reabsorption by the new variant.
Preliminary results from those studies could be ready by the end of this week, Lassels said.
Scientists have identified more than 20 mutations in the 501Y.V2 variant, including several viruses of the spike protein that infect human cells.
One of these is at a site that is believed to be important for neutralizing antibodies and has not been found in another coronavirus variant discovered in Britain, Lesells said.
“Why we have become a little cautious about flagging concern about (effectiveness) vaccines, for many vaccines that are thought to evoke a fairly widespread immune response,” he said. said.
They stated that the widespread response could target different parts of the spike protein, not just one.
“That’s why we think that although these mutations may have some effect, they are unlikely to completely rule out the effect of vaccines,” Lassels said.
South Africa’s Health Ministry accepted Reuters’ questions but did not immediately respond. The country has recorded more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases and is the highest on the African continent, with over 30,000 deaths.
Public Health England has stated that there is no evidence to suggest to protect the COVID-19 vaccine from mutated coronavirus variants.
Bioentech chief executive Ugur Sahin said in an interview last week that his company’s vaccine, which uses messenger RNA to direct the human immune system to fight the virus, in protecting against the British version should be able. (Reporting of Alexander Winning Editing by Joe Bawer and Alexander Smith)