Are therapies becoming less effective ?: Researchers fear reinfection through South Africa mutation


Are therapies losing their effectiveness?
Researchers fear reinfection through South Africa mutation

Two specialist articles about the new Corona variant from South Africa are causing concern. Accordingly, the mutation could be even more contagious than the British version of the pathogen. Researchers in Johannesburg also suspect that existing therapies and vaccines need to be optimized.
 The  South African coronavirus variant 501Y.V2 could possibly spread more widely than previously thought. In addition, antibody therapies and vaccines could lose their effectiveness against this type of pathogen. Scientists report on these results in two specialist articles that were not yet peer-reviewed by independent colleagues before publication. ©

 The  researchers also write that the mutations could also lead to Covid-19 convalescents being infected a second time with the new variant.


 The  coronavirus variant 501Y.V2 – also known as B.1.351 – was first discovered in South Africa and has now been detected in numerous countries, including Germany. It is characterized among other things by several mutations that change the so-called spike protein of the virus. ©

 The  virus uses this protein to attach itself to the body’s cells and eventually invade them.

Variant attaches itself better to cells in simulation

Gard Nelson and his group from ImmunityBio in Culver City, California, used computer simulations to study the effects of the genetic changes. ©

 The y included three mutations in a central region of the spike protein in their investigation. ©

 The  analysis showed that, thanks to the three mutations, the virus can attach to the cells even better than the mutated British variant, for which a better transferability is assumed. ©

 The  more effective binding makes the virus more contagious.


 The  spike protein is also where the antibodies attack, which the immune system produces after an infection or vaccination or which are administered as part of therapy. With the changes considered, there is a risk that the antibodies will no longer “recognize” the virus, Nelson and colleagues continue.

Antibodies could often not prevent infection

Penny Moore’s South African team from the NHLS national health laboratory in Johannesburg investigated the effects of nine mutations of the variant 501Y.V2 that affect the spike protein. ©

 The  researchers come to the conclusion that three monoclonal antibodies that are administered in a therapy against a Sars-CoV-2 infection no longer work in the South African variant as a result of the mutations.

In laboratory tests with blood from recovered Covid 19 patients, they found that the antibodies contained in them could not prevent cells from being infected with the South African virus variant in many cases. This result points to an increased risk of reinfection, the scientists write.

Carsten Watzl, Secretary General of the German Society for Immunology, points out that the South African virologists did not examine the blood of vaccinated people: “After a vaccination, there are significantly more antibodies in the blood than most of the former Covid-19 patients Case was. ” Only an examination of the blood of vaccinated patients could clarify whether a vaccine had to be adapted to the new variant or not.

“Data much worse than I expected”

Christian Drosten from the Berlin Charité recently emphasized the importance of T cells in the body’s immune response. “If a virus has a mutation at any point, it does not change the T-cell immunity. In this respect, I do not believe that we have to reckon with a failure of the vaccines,” he said in an interview with the “Spiegel”. A variant that could re-infect recovered Covid 19 patients probably has no advantage in a non-immune population like in Germany.

Vaccine researcher Torben Schiffner from the University of Leipzig assesses the South African study differently. “©

 The se data are significantly worse than I expected and suggest that the vaccines will probably have to be adjusted sooner or later,” he said in an interview with the MDR.

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therapies effective Researchers fear reinfection South Africa mutation


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