Currently available Corona vaccines are “almost certainly” less effective against the new B.1.1.529 variant discovered in southern Africa, according to a British expert, James Naismith, professor of structural biology at Oxford University, told the BBC 4 Today radio program on Friday.
He added that it is not yet possible to say with certainty whether the variant is also more easily transmissible, based on the available data. “We suspect it is, and there is some early data,” Naismith continued. If easier transmissibility is confirmed, it is inevitable that the variant will reach the U.K. as well, the expert added.
Scientist Susan Hopkins of Imperial College in London called the new variant “the most worrying we have ever seen.” The transmission rate (R-value) detected in South Africa so far is 2, which is similar to levels at the start of the pandemic, Hopkins told BBC radio. More data are still needed to come to a final assessment, he said.
However, a renewed increase in infections in a highly contaminated country such as South Africa suggests that new variations are at least partly responsible, Hopkins continued. If higher transmissibility proves true, the variant would become “a massive problem” in which it could bypass immune protection that exists in the population.
South African virologist Shabir Madhi also believes conventional vaccines provide limited protection against the new Corona variant B.1.1.529. He told TV station eNCA in Johannesburg on Friday, “We assume there is still some protection.” But it is likely that previous vaccines are likely to be less effective, he said.
- source: kurier.at/picture:pixabay.com
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