Thunder Bay – COVID-19 Update – A new variant of COVID-19 is causing concern. The strain, first discovered in South Africa has medical officials fearing that it may not respond to the vaccines that have been produced so far.
The variant is similar to the one found in Great Britain. The two variants have a mutation called N501Y. That mutation impacts the spike protein on the virus which is how it is able to enter cells in the human body.
This spike protein is also, according to experts what has been used as the target for vaccines.
The South African variant, differs from the UK variant. That difference is the it carries another mutation, E484K as well on the spike protein.
“The E484K mutation has been shown to reduce antibody recognition,” says Professor Francois Balloux from University College London. “As such, it helps the virus bypass immune protection provided by prior infection or vaccination.”
In South Africa, medical officials are concerned that the new variant of the Covid-19 virus that is sweeping across the country could be resistant to the current vaccines currently administered around the world.