Recent viral mutations of COVID-19 may inhibit the effectiveness of the current two vaccines to a certain extent. Researchers have recently expressed concern about this preliminary finding, because it also largely predicts that future mutations may destroy the vaccine’s effectiveness. Effectiveness. The study tested coronaviruses from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, and was led by scientists from Rockefeller University in New York and the National Institutes of Health.
One way that vaccines work is to encourage the immune system to produce antibodies that prevent the virus from infecting cells. Researchers at Rockefeller University took blood samples from 20 people who had received Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and tested their antibodies against various viral mutations in the laboratory.
The head of the study, Dr. Michel Knusenzweig of Rockefeller University, said that for some viruses, this antibody does not work well against the virus, and its activity is one to three times lower, depending on the degree of virus mutation. Although the difference is small, it is definitely a difference. The antibody response is not very effective in blocking the mutant virus. Earlier studies have shown that the two vaccines are approximately 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease.
The genetic diversity of coronaviruses has increased. Scientists say that new cases are the main reason. Every new infection causes the virus to replicate itself, so there is a chance for mutations. The latest virus variants appearing in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil seem to be more easily spread, and the new variants do not seem to cause more serious diseases, but they will eventually weaken the vaccine’s capacity, which is worrying.
E. John Wherry, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that people do not want people to think that the current vaccine has failed. The current vaccine still has a good level of protection against immunity, but this mutation does reduce the ability of our immune response to recognize viruses. Dr. Buddy Creech, a vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University, also said that now we are in a race between vaccines and virus mutations. The slower the speed of vaccines around the world, the more we have the chance to let the virus escape and develop into mutations. . The work of Dr. Drew Weissman, a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, has helped develop Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. He pointed out that vaccines can also provide protection in other ways, such as stimulating responses in other parts of the immune system.
Recently, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech reported the second round of reassuring discoveries, which are a vaccine against a mutant virus. Earlier this month, researchers from Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch said that the vaccine is still effective against a new variant called N501Y from the United Kingdom and South Africa. Similarly, the vaccine was equally effective when they tested other mutations.
The researchers’ current job is to test all mutations in the British variant one by one. Tests from 16 vaccinators showed that the ability of antibodies to block the virus did not differ much. Even if the virus eventually mutates enough to need to adjust the overall level of the vaccine, it is not difficult to adjust the formula of the vaccine prepared by the new technology. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are also made with a piece of virus genetic code that is easy to convert.
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