S Africa COVID variant antibodies may offer cross-protection | News on the coronavirus pandemic
Research by South African scientists suggests that antibodies triggered by exposure to the country’s dominant variant of the coronavirus may prevent infection with other variants.
The results of laboratory studies give hope that COVID-19 vaccines based on the 501Y.V2 variant first identified at the end of last year could protect against multiple mutations circulating in different parts of the world, said Wednesday. scientists.
The most contagious variant was the source of the second wave of infections in South Africa which peaked in January and is believed to have spread to many other countries in Africa as well as to d ‘other continents.
“We used plasma… from people who were infected in this last wave with 501Y.V2 and we used it against the first wave virus… what we found was that it could neutralize itself, OK not as well as it could neutralize itself but it’s not bad at all, ”Alex Sigal of the African Institute for Health Research told a press conference.
The results have not yet been peer reviewed by researchers.
Sigal said that vaccines designed with version 501Y.V2 in mind “might have cross-protection with other variants, … that gives you an idea of how this variant problem can be solved.”
High-level virologist Tulio de Oliveira also told the video conference attended by senior government ministers that “501Y.V2 can produce a high level of antibodies capable of neutralizing itself,” adding that the immune response overcomes the previous variants.
‘Good prospect of success’
Penny Moore, a professor at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, said the antibody response of the 501Y.V2 variant was reduced only three-fold against the virus of the first wave, while the response of the virus of the first wave was reduced nine times against 501Y. .V2, also known as B1351.yes
“It’s not that the antibodies triggered by 501Y.V2 are somehow magical, there is a downturn, but unlike the antibodies triggered by the original variant, they seem to have somehow a bit more magnitude,” she said at the same briefing. .
Salim Abdool Karim, a senior government advisor on COVID-19, said major vaccine makers, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are already making vaccines based on the 501Y.V2 variant.
He predicted that by the end of 2021, most vaccine makers would have adapted their vaccines, “not because they are specifically concerned about the virus coming from South Africa … but because of the mutations. keys in the 501Y.V2 are in fact also present in many other variants “. .
“These results basically tell us that we have a good chance of success if we make a vaccine based on it,” he said.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the research was encouraging and genomic surveillance had helped the government respond to the pandemic.
South Africa has recorded by far the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Africa, with 1.5 million cases and more than 50,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Coronavirus mutations – some more contagious than others – have prompted vaccine makers to change their formulas in response to their spread.
The American biotech company Moderna announced last week that it would begin a clinical trial of a version of its vaccine specific to the South African variant in mid-March.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, researchers have warned that the next vaccine the country gets may not be effective in preventing a mild to moderate infection caused by the South African strain that was first reported in the country on Tuesday. .
Biologist and Catholic priest Nicanor Austrianaco, of Manila-based OCTA Research, said in an online forum that the AstraZeneca vaccine had been shown to be ineffective against the South African variant, causing a pause in vaccine deployment in South Africa in February and the switch to the single injection Janssen vaccine.
Austrianaco pointed to a report published in February by the medRxiv website which showed how the vaccine had “significantly decreased” its effectiveness by 70% to 10% compared to B1351.
A 10 percent effectiveness rate is “no different from injecting water into the patient,” Austrianaco said as quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper. The World Health Organization has recommended the use of AstraZeneca even though there are variations in the country.