Vaccines May Not Work Against South Africa’s COVID-19 Variant – Researchers

As vaccination goes on in parts of the world, researchers in South Africa have said the COVID-19 variant discovered in the country has been seen to escape antibodies.

According to the researchers, the 501Y.V2 variant, discovered in the country, has been seen to evade antibodies that attack it during plasma treatment. Blood plasma from previously recovered patients has been used in treatment as the antibodies are able to identify and attack the virus.

The treatment is now under threat as new research claims that the South African variant may be even more complex than first thought.

The variant has been found to be 50% more infectious than other variants and has spread quickly to 20 countries of the world.

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Nations have since locked borders on South Africa and have prevented travels to and from the country.

“This lineage exhibits complete escape from three classes of therapeutically relevant monoclonal antibodies,” a team of scientists from three South African universities working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) wrote in a paper published in the bioRxiv journal.

“Furthermore, 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma,”

They added that their conclusions drawn also “highlight the prospect of reinfection … and may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.”

South Africa is the continent’s worst-hit country with over one million cases and its second wave of COVID-19 is driven by the variant under study.

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In the past month, the new variant was responsible for very high infections in South Africa, which were in the region of 21,000 per day before reducing recently to over 10,000 infections daily.

In some countries, convalescent blood plasma has been used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, with reservations found in severely ill cases, where the method hasn’t worked greatly.

Some scientists have warned that currently developed and available vaccines may not be efficacious enough for the new variant of the disease and there may be a need to develop new vaccines for the fast-spreading variant.

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