According to the latest information , scientists are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccines available today may not be effective against the novel coronavirus variant identified in South Africa, the 501.V2 variant.
According to vaccine developers including BioNTech CEO Dr Uğur Şahin and Oxford University Professor of Medicine John Bell, in the event that the South African variant is resistant to available vaccines , the vaccines to increase their effectiveness. However, it will take about six weeks .
These experts are currently researching the 501. V2 variant and the one identified in the UK, the B.1.1.7 variant, to determine whether 501.V2 is indeed vulnerable to COVID-19 vaccines.
What we know about the new South African variant 501.V2
The emergence of the new South African and British variants is in itself not at all surprising, because as the researchers point out, viruses are subject to mutations when they reproduce. And this is the case with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Thus, the 501. V2 and B.1.1.7 variants share some similar mutations. However, the 501. V2 variant has additional mutations of concern . The peak 501. V2 protein located on the surface of the virus that it uses to penetrate human cells contains more mutations than in the B.1.1.7 variant.
This suggests that 501.V2 may present a problem as these multiple mutations make its spike protein unrecognizable to the immune system. While most of the COVID-19 vaccines available should allow the immune system to recognize this spike protein.
501.V2 could over time make vaccines less effective
According to Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Affairs, currently there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines would not protect against both B variants at the same time. .7 and 501. V2.
However, neutralizing tests will tell us more. Precisely, these experiments consist in seeing if the antibodies obtained after vaccination are capable of stopping an infection with new versions of the virus. To perform these tests, experts use both blood from people who have been vaccinated and those who have contracted the virus and developed antibodies naturally.
That said, according to several experts, it would probably take years of the coronavirus mutation and not months to be able to outsmart the available vaccines. Making vaccines ineffective is therefore a process on a scale of several years and it will require the accumulation of several viral mutations .
In other words, COVID-19 vaccines would not be punctually ineffective against the 501. V2 variant, but gradually, over time.
We will be sure to keep you informed of developments.