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Race against time: the virus evolves, and scientists wonder if they can contain it


A variant of the coronavirus in the UK has caused alarms due to the possibility that it could spread more easily. #But even if that turns out to be true, experts point out that COVID-19 vaccines may have an effect on the variant.

#Los #Angeles, #December 29 (AP / EFE) .- #Are the vaccinations against COVID-19 work in the new variant of the coronavirus?

#Experts believe so, but are still working to confirm it.

A variant of the coronavirus in the UK has caused alarms due to the possibility that it could spread more easily. #But even if that turns out to be true, experts point out that COVID-19 vaccines may have an effect on the variant.

#Dr #Anthony #Fauci, the US government’s leading infectious disease expert, noted that data from #Britain indicates that vaccines will block the virus. #But the #United #States will run tests to be sure.

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#Viruses often undergo small changes as they reproduce and spread through a population. #In fact, these slight modifications are the way scientists track the spread of a virus from one place to another.

#Dr #Anthony #Fauci, the US government’s leading infectious disease expert, noted that data from #Britain indicates that vaccines will block the virus. #Photo: #Manu #Fernandez, AP

#But if a virus mutates enough, one of the concerns is that current vaccines don’t offer as much protection. #And while that’s one of the possibilities to watch out for as time goes by with the coronavirus, experts say they don’t think that’s the case with the variant in the UK.

“I hope this is not a problem,” said #Moncef #Slaoui, the US government’s chief scientific adviser on vaccination efforts.

NO NEED TO RECONSIDER EFFECTIVENESS OF VACCINES: WHO

The appearance of two new variants of the coronavirus, a natural and normal event when a virus reproduces intensively, does not mean that the effectiveness of the vaccines that have been developed must be reconsidered, according to the #World #Health #Organization (WHO).

#Mutations “do not automatically mean that we have to reconsider the effects of vaccines,” said the WHO vaccine specialist, #Ana #María #Henao-Restrepo, at a press conference.

#Two distinct variants of the coronavirus discovered almost simultaneously in the UK and #South #Africa have caused global concern about what they could mean in efforts to bring the pandemic under control with a group of vaccines that have been developed.

The fear has been such that many countries have interrupted air links with both countries.

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The WHO has explained that viruses are naturally susceptible to mutation, but that the changes they undergo do not necessarily change something essential in them.

The WHO has explained that viruses are naturally susceptible to mutation, but that the changes they undergo do not necessarily change something essential in them. #Photo: #Alberto #Pezzali, AP

#In these specific cases the initial studies have found no evidence that anything has changed in terms of the severity of the infection.

The first evaluations carried out in the #United #Kingdom indicated that the variant identified in this territory would be more contagious, but this is now being analyzed in an international network of laboratories, said the head of the anti-COVID cell at the WHO, #Maria #Von #Kerkhove.

“We work with scientists around the world who monitor the virus for changes and mutations. The changes are normal and those that have been detected have little impact on the behavior of the virus, ”he told the press.

The WHO has a working group dedicated to monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus and it is expected that the more in-depth studies that are being done of the two variants will be known in the coming weeks.

The #Director of #Health #Emergencies at the WHO, #Mike #Ryan, regretted that many countries have reacted by isolating the #United #Kingdom and #South #Africa, and explained that if these countries have been able to detect the new variants, it is because they make the genetic sequences of the virus and share this information with the rest of the world.

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INCOGNITES OF THE VUI VARIANT – 202012/01

#Researchers #José M. #Jiménez #Giuardeño, from the #Department of #Infectious #Diseases at #King’s #College #London, and Iñaki #Comas, from the #Institute of #Biomedicine of #Valencia (IBV-CSIC) and director of the #SeqCovid-Spain consortium, which studies the coronavirus genome, have to #Efe it is known and it is not known until now.

#An atom-by-atom model of SARS-CoV-2. #Photo: #Lorenzo #Casalino / #Amaro #Lab / UC #San #Diego

– IS THIS VARIANT TRANSMITTED MORE EASILY THAN THE PREVIOUS VERSIONS?

The most correct thing is to say – according to #Jiménez – that there are suspicions that this new variant may be responsible for the increase in the number of infections in a certain area of ​​the #United #Kingdom, but there is still not enough data to affirm it.

#To have more definitive answers, we will have to wait months. The first thing will be to isolate the virus with the mutations or create it using the infective clones that we have, grow it in cultures and carry out different experiments, both in vitro and in animal models, to characterize the mutations and evaluate how it behaves compared to the ones. that we already know.

– WHAT HAS THE SARS-CoV-2 CHANGED NOW?

The virus has acquired 17 different mutations (14 amino acid changes and 3 deletions). #Two of them have been previously described: the N501Y mutation increases the affinity of the S protein for the receptor, which would increase its infectivity; while the deletion (a type of genetic mutation) 69-70del of the S protein has been described that could affect the evasion of the immune system by the virus.

– CAN IT AFFECT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE VACCINES ALREADY AVAILABLE?

#This is something that is not known yet, but in principle they should not be affected, considers #Jiménez. #Available vaccines use protein S as an antigen to generate an immune response, but the antibodies generated usually recognize different parts of the protein.

#Comas indicates that vaccines like #Pfizer’s or #Moderna’s can be “updated” quickly and generate new doses, and also reminds us that “every year we update vaccines like the flu, we are used to it. The important thing is to be able to detect these variants and, above all, those that could appear as an escape when the vaccine begins to be administered ”.

#Available vaccines use protein S as an antigen to generate an immune response, but the antibodies generated usually recognize different parts of the protein. #Photo: #Carlos #Giusti, AP

#In addition to those already available, very different vaccines are being developed, based on various parts of the virus and that allow us to protect ourselves in different ways.

#That makes it important that we have an arsenal of varied vaccines.

THE PFIZER / BIONTECH VACCINE MAY BE EFFECTIVE

The variant, detected mainly in #London and south-east #England in recent weeks, has raised concerns around the world over signs that it could spread more easily. #Although there is no indication that it causes a more serious illness, many countries inside and outside #Europe have restricted the arrival of passengers from #Great #Britain as a precaution.

“#At this time we do not know if our vaccine can also provide protection against this new variant,” #Ugur #Sahin told a press conference the day after the vaccine was authorized for use in the #European #Union. “#But at the scientific level, it is very likely that the immune response of this vaccine can also deal with the new variants of the virus.”

#Sahin noted that the #British variant proteins are 99 percent consistent with the more widespread versions of the virus, and therefore #BioNTech has “scientific confidence” that its vaccine will be effective.

“#But we will only know if the experiment is done and we will need about two weeks from now to get the data,” he said. “The chances that our vaccine will work (…) are relatively high.”

#If the vaccine had to be adjusted for the new variant, the company could do so in about six weeks, #Sahin said, although regulatory authorities may have to authorize the changes before using the modified drug.





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https://www.sinembargo.mx/29-12-2020/3916547

##Race #time #virus #evolves #scientists

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