Experts worried: coronavirus variant mutates again

Viruses mutate, again and again and purely at random. And it is now due to this coincidence that the virus variant, which was first discovered in the UK, mutated further is. Experts are concerned about this.

It involves a mutation in the virus variant B.1.1.7, which is the Names E484K and had previously been found in the variants from South Africa and Brazil.

It affects a building block in the so-called Spike protein, that the virus uses to invade body cells and replicate there.

Concern that antibodies will become ineffective

According to a report from Public Health England, the mutation could be in eleven of around 215.000 samples be proven.

"This indicates that the British variant is now independently the E484K mutation evolved," said Jonathan Stoye of the Francis Crick Institute.

The concern now is that the E484K mutation could cause antibodies to bind more poorly to the spike protein. That therefore virus defense no longer works as well in people who have been through a corona infection or in vaccinated people.

Viral variant escapes part of the defense system

This is indicated by a study that has not yet been independently peer-reviewed Study by researchers from South Africa.

They had investigated whether laboratory-produced so-called monoclonal antibodies and antibodies from blood sera of recovered Covid-19 patients of the South African virus variant B.1.351, which also has the E484K mutation, can do any harm.

The study concludes that the mutated viral variant is not susceptible to some antibodies can escape.

Weaker immune response, but not ineffective

However, the study relates solely to the neutralizing effect of antibodies. However, these form only one part of the defense system in the human body.

Vaccine manufacturers Biontech/Pfizer had found in a study that vaccinated people against the variant from South Africa appeared to have a somewhat weaker immune response build up. However, he said, this "probably does not lead to significantly reduced vaccine efficacy".

Virologist: "worrying development"

Scientist Stoye said it is not surprising that new variants are appearing. "It remains to be seen whether this mutation will give the new virus a Growth Advantage will provide."

The virologist Julian Tang from the University of Leicester spoke of a "worrying development", Which, however, is "not completely unexpected".

Tang said it was all the more important to remember Corona rules and to stop the spread of the virus, so that it does not become a "melting pot" for new variants.

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