Covid: What we know about effectiveness of vaccines against new variants

24 Janvier, 2021, 13:20 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Image Reuters The variant is the main driver of South Africa's second wave of COVID-19 infections

The new South African variant, which has been named "501Y.V2", is a strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

These new variants, detected from Britain, South Africa and Brazil, have mutations to the virus' spike protein, which enables the virus to latch onto human cells and therefore plays a key role in driving infections.

Fauci, U.S. top infectious disease expert, echoed his concerns, calling data on the South Africa variant a bit more "ominous" even as current vaccines still appeared to protect against both variants. It did not say where in Portugal the strain was detected.

Chief Scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance addressed comments from Health Secretary Matt Hancock who suggested the South African variant may result in the Pfizer vaccine being 50 percent less effective. "The two men are already back in South Africa", Dr Amoth said.

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"The speed and scope of (the South African variant) mediated immune escape from pre-existing neutralizing antibodies highlight the urgent requirement for rapidly adaptable vaccine design platforms", the study authors said.

Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Research Center tweeted that this variant could "spread more widely in the coming months". But results showed the need for new vaccines to be created to tackle the evolving threat, it said. While both the new variants established in the United Kingdom and in South Africa seem to be more contagious than the initial infection, scientists had previously claimed that the South African variant may cause some hindrance in the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine.

Convalescent blood plasma from previous patients has not been shown to be effective when administered to severely ill patients requiring intensive care for COVID-19, but it is approved in several countries as an emergency measure.

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