The following is a round-up of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus. Antibodies induced by the Moderna and Pfizer Inc/BioNTech vaccines are dramatically less effective at neutralizing some of the most worrying coronavirus variants, a new study suggests.
Researchers obtained blood samples from 99 individuals who had received one or two doses of either vaccine and tested their vaccine-induced antibodies against virus replicas engineered to mimic 10 globally circulating variants.
Five of the 10 variants were “highly resistant to neutralization,” even when volunteers had received both doses of the vaccines, the researchers reported on Friday in Cell. All five highly resistant variants had mutations in the spike on the virus surface – known as K417N/T, E484K, and N501Y – that characterize a variant rampant in South Africa and two variants spreading rapidly in Brazil.
In keeping with previous studies, the proportion of neutralizing antibodies dropped 5- to 6-fold against the variants discovered in Brazil. Against the variant discovered in South Africa, neutralization fell 20- to 44-fold.
A variant circulating now in New York has the E484K mutation. “While studies of the New York variant are ongoing, our findings suggest that similar variants harbouring E484K may be harder for vaccine-induced antibodies to neutralize,” said study leader Alejandro Balazs of Harvard University and the Massachusetts General Hospital. “Despite our results,” he added, “it’s important to consider that vaccines raise other kinds of immune responses which could protect against developing severe disease.
The coronavirus variant first identified in the UK, known as B.1.1.7, is deadlier than other variants circulating there, a new study appears to confirm. Researchers analyzed data on 184,786 people in England diagnosed with Covid-19 between mid-November and mid-January, including 867 who died.
For every three people who died within four weeks after being infected with another variant, roughly five died after becoming infected with B.1.1.7, according to a paper posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
In other news – The Queen actress Sibusisiwe Jili talks about her Pregnancy Journey
The Queen actress Sibusisiwe Jili, who stars as policewoman Georgina, has decided to giver her followers an update on her pregnancy.
Taking to Instagram recently, the actress reflected on how the last couple of months have been. Learn more
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