Science

Mutated Covid-19 strain may remain unaffected by the vaccine, study reveals

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 22, 2021

The researchers, including those from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, examined the neutralisation activity of plasma from patients who recovered from prior infection   -  REUTERS

‘Mutated variant escapes neutralisation by antibodies from recovered Covid-19 patients’

The mutated strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus found in South Africa can escape the immune system and evade antibody responses produced by the vaccines to infect host cells.

According to the study, published in the preprint platform bioRxiv, this mutated variant of Covid-19 escapes neutralisation by antibodies from recovered Covid-19 patients. This may lead to cases of reinfection.

Also read: A new Covid-19 challenge: Mutations rise along with cases

The novel lineage of the coronavirus — 501Y.V2 — has mutations in nine parts of its spike protein, which enables it to infect human cells.

For the study, the researchers, including those from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, examined the neutralisation activity of plasma from patients who recovered from prior infection with other strains of the coronavirus against the 501Y.V2 variant.

They found that nearly half — 21 of 44 — of the samples had no detectable neutralising activity against this variant.

According to the scientists, 501Y.V2 shows “substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in Covid-19 convalescent plasma.”

The researchers wrote: “Here we show that the 501Y.V2 lineage, that contains nine spike mutations, and rapidly emerged in South Africa during the second half of 2020, is largely resistant to neutralising antibodies elicited by infection with previously circulating lineages.”

Their findings suggest that this “may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.”

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Published on January 22, 2021
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