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Old 01-24-2021, 06:16 AM
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Exclamation The South African coronavirus mutation can infect multiple times, could hamper vaccin

The South African coronavirus mutation can infect multiple times, could hamper vaccine
By: Matthew Roza - Salon News - 01-23-21

"A new study reveals that a large number of people with COVID-19 antibodies may not be protected from the new strain!"

A mutant strain of the novel coronavirus discovered in South Africa appears to be able to ward off antibodies from individuals who had previously recovered from COVID-19 meaning if the new strain becomes widespread, we may see more people getting infected multiple times.

A group of South African scientists made this discovery in a paper published earlier this week by South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases. In it, researchers describe how they studied blood samples from a small group of people who had developed COVID-19 but ultimately recovered. When the human body recovers from a disease, it produces a protein known as an antibody to identify and ultimately protect itself in the future from the bacteria or virus which caused it to become ill. (These illness-causing microorganisms are known as pathogens.) This means that people who were sick with COVID-19 should in theory have antibodies that recognize the pathogen which causes it and neutralize it in the event that they are reinfected.

Instead, according to the authors of the paper, half of the blood samples of the patients they tested did not have the antibodies necessary to protect them from the 501Y.V2 strain of the novel coronavirus, which was identified in South Africa last month. While it was a small study and more research will need to be done, the initial results are not auspicious.

Not only could this interfere with the human population's ability to develop natural immunity, it could also hamper the efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both companies are distributing mRNA vaccines, which are different from traditional vaccines that train the immune system to develop antibodies against pathogens by injecting weakened or dead versions of the disease-causing agents into the body. mRNA vaccines, by contrast, inject a synthetic single-stranded molecule of RNA that infects our own cells and makes them produce the protein that grows on the "spike" on the exterior of the coronavirus. The presence of this protein in the body is then recognized as an intruder, and the immune system learns to identify the coronavirus as an enemy and protect against it.

In the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, both of them train the body to recognize a protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as Spike. Spike is the protein that helps the virus enter human cells and resembles little pins that stick out from the sphere of the virus itself, like the spines that poke out all around a sea urchin. Unfortunately, the South African mutation alters that very protein, meaning that it could affect the vaccine's efficacy.

The South African strain is not the only one raising concern. There is a new strain in Brazil that the scientists argue "also has changes at key positions" in ways that could impair antibodies' effectiveness against the disease. Then there is a strain in the United Kingdom known as B117 that, though not deadlier than previous strains, is more transmissible.

"I think transmissible is definitely the word to go with because that highlights what we do know and what we don't know," Dr. Dylan Morris, a postdoctoral research scholar at UCLA, told Salon earlier this month about the British strain. "Even if the disease severity isn't increased or even if it decreases by a small amount, 'more transmissible' is still a very scary thing at this point in the pandemic, because that could result in faster spread and faster exponential growth."

About this writer MATTHEW ROZSA:
Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.


Personal note: Jesus - just what we need to hear!! My God - whatever this thing is we've got to get rid of it ASAP! I've yet been able to get a virus shot - stock is gone in our area and known one seems to know when & where they can get the shot. We are all behind the eight ball it seems. From the President on down - we at the bottom of the pole having to suffer the late deliveries of the vaccine and any hope of not being affected in the very near future.

Boats (We are the People)!!

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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