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Thread: The worst coronvirus mutant yet - Does South Africa data represent the worst case for the whole world?

  1. #1 The worst coronvirus mutant yet - Does South Africa data represent the worst case for the whole world? 
    Forum Freshman Double Helix's Avatar
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    Dec 2020
    The South African coronavirus mutant, which apparently has altered it receptor binding domain, appears to be able to avoid (to significant extent) prior immunizations either by infection or some vaccinations.

    They have stopped using the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine (1) since the new virus mutant seems to be able to remain infective. While this vaccine does appear to protect against severe symptoms, they are avoiding it for good reason - it might not suppress transmission, and continued mutation of this strain. It will not end the pandemic even if it helps people survive.

    Natural infections from previous strains do not appear to offer a great deal of protection, as one might expect they would. But yet the the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines appear to protect people from most symptoms, even against the new variant. And these RNA vaccines use the sequence from a variant isolated and sequenced many months ago, long before this mutant showed up. All data so far comes from South Africa.

    The true level of this new threat remains to be established. But is it possible that the population of South Africa does not represent the same immunological competence of all people in all countries? It is well known that nutrition plays a big role in a robust immune system. So if many people in a given country are not getting sufficient nutrition, their immunity may be compromised, also compromising our ability to determine the impact of vaccines on other populations. And this does not simply relate to a matter of wealth. Many people everywhere have poor diets. Does any data exist to establish such an issue with regard to the infectivity of mutants against various immunizations?

    Or could other factors, such as genetic aspects of various groups of people also play a major role in resisting reinfection? What are the most important issues facing us with regard to mutant variants now on the scene, and will natural infections or vaccination at least prevent major symptoms, and keep most infected people out of the hospital? But remember : it is important for any vaccine to prevent people from replicating the virus sufficiently in order to end the pandemic, not just to prevent the nasty results of a full blown infection.

    Finally, is it possible that the mRNA vaccines are the most reliable for protection against most mutants? If so, we all need to be aware of this ASAP!


    Last edited by Double Helix; February 12th, 2021 at 08:00 PM.
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  3. #2 An update on vaccine effectiveness. 
    Forum Freshman Double Helix's Avatar
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    Dec 2020
    Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla has confirmed that their vaccine remains highly effective against all strains of the Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), including the most worrisome strain from South Africa. It still prevents symptoms in 95% of people, and reportedly almost 100% against severe infections. Its protection is good for at least 6 months, but that is based on a lot of data from earlier variants, using a vaccine based on an mRNA sequence for the viral S protein from about a year ago. The greater the rate of mutation, the more likely boosters will be needed,

    This data indicates the virus likely will have a very difficult time mutating around its own receptor binding domain (for the human ACE-2 receptor) in order to avoid immune suppression (1). This is very good news. And it is almost certain the Moderna vaccine will work in much the same way since it and Pfizer's are the only vaccines which use strictly the mRNA technology. It appears this delivery of the vaccine antigen S protein to our immune system is out-performing all others. It remains to be established why that is, but the data appears without question. Pfizer is beginning another study using a third booster shot. Early data indicate 10-20x higher antibody responses after a third shot. Sounds like a plan!

    Long term immunity and complete eradication is another story. As long as the virus can replicate at low levels in humans like it does in bats, we will never be rid of it. So it could "break out" even if we are rid of it for a few years, and we can only hope that it is not as nasty as it is now. The best hope for that is the receptor binding constraint which limits viral mutations that do not bind with high affinity. It remains possible the virus could be almost completely contained with existing vaccines, for an extended period of time. This virus is so unique, that such requirements for replication may very well lead to its downfall.

    Perhaps the greatest unknown aspect of the pandemic right now is whether vaccinated people can still spread the virus if infected. That may depend in large measure on which vaccine they have taken. Mixing them up if one can would not be a bad idea, after consulting with experts clearly. The ability to spread would also seem to depend in large measure on how long it has been since the vaccinated individual was infected, and how competent their immune system is to suppressing viral production. Doubtless, some will be better at this than others.

    This is a previous thread posted by myself regarding the problems the virus faces to escape immune surveillance.

    1. The Mutating Coronavirus. Are there limitations on its ability to escape immunity from post-infections or by vaccines?

    Last edited by Double Helix; February 26th, 2021 at 09:07 PM.
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