Some Antibody Treatments May Not Work Against Some Variants
Concerningly, research suggests that monoclonal antibody treatments may not work as well against some of these newer mutations. A January 2021 study in Cell Host & Microbe suggests that the Beta variant may be able to evade detection by the antibodies in the immune system, due to its specific mutation in the spike protein that binds to the respiratory cell.
According to CDC data, both the Beta and Gamma variants show reduced susceptibility to one specific combination of antibodies: bamlanivimab and etesevimab. The Alpha variant remains responsive to such monoclonal antibody treatments, while certain other variants remain responsive to monoclonal antibody treatments to varying and unknown degrees. Finally, a July 2021 article published in Nature, plus recent data from the CDC, indicate that bamlanivimab and etesevimab may be ineffective against the Delta variant, while Regeneron monoclonal antibodies appear to remain effective.
Bottom line? Many of these new variants appear to be able to resist antibody therapies to some degree, though we don’t know the full extent of the danger this poses. Scientists are still working hard to find out.
Vaccine Efficacy Is Being Tested Against The New Variants
Here’s the good news: While a few “breakthrough” cases have been reported among fully vaxxed individuals, increasing evidence has shown that both mRNA vaccines will largely protect against hospitalization and death from all existing forms of COVID, including variants containing the EEK spike protein mutation.
A February study in Nature found that the Pfizer’s recently FDA-approved vaccine protects against the Alpha and Beta strains of COVID-19, and another February report from The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that the Comirnaty vax protects against the Gamma variant. However, two recent studies appear to provide somewhat contradictory reports an observational study from Israel appears to suggests that the Pfizer vaccine might not be quite as effective against the Delta variant as previously thought, calling for a booster shot for all. Meanwhile, a clinical trial done in the UK, then peer-reviewed and published in The New England Journal of Medicine in mid-August, showed that the effectiveness of two doses of Comirnaty was 93.7% among persons with the Alpha variant and 88.0% among those with the Delta variant.
The takeaway? The CDC asserts that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against all new COVID-19 variants because both Comirnaty and Moderna do work against Delta.
What Do We Know About Other Covid Variants
The delta variant is just the latest one to cause concern in the U.S. as it spreads across the globe. Earlier this year, more infectious variants from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil made headlines as they became more dominant in different parts of the world.
Each has its own set of mutations, but they all contain small changes to parts of the spike protein that helps the coronavirus attach to our cells.
This is concerning, because it means the virus could spread more easily, Dr. Rhoads says.
Its hard to measure exactly how much of an impact new variants initially have on the pandemic since many factors contribute to how quickly a virus spreads including human behaviors.
But those concerns over the new delta variant are for good reason. The U.K. variant that alarmed experts in the U.S. at the beginning of the year, called B.1.1.7 or alpha, now accounts for nearly 70% of all U.S. cases. And the variant from Brazil, P.1, accounts for over 11% of all U.S. Cases. The CDC considers both variants of concern, notes Dr. Rhoads.
There is good news, though, as a study out of England showed that the Pfizer vaccine was still highly effective against symptomatic disease from the delta variant. These new variants can also still be detected with our current tests, so thats one thing that should be reassuring, Dr. Rhoads adds.
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Are There Additional Covid
Bollinger says that as of now, none of the new coronavirus variants call for any new prevention strategies. We need to continue doing the basic precautions that we know work to interrupt spread of the virus, he says.
Ray concurs: There is no demonstration yet that these variants are biologically different in ways that would require any change in current recommendations meant to limit spread of COVID-19, he says. Nonetheless, we must continue to be vigilant for such phenomena.
Ray stresses that both vaccination and human behavior are important. It is striking to note that 99% of COVID-19 deaths are now occurring in unvaccinated people, when most adults in the USA have been vaccinated, he says. The more people who are unvaccinated and infected, the more chances there are for mutations to occur. Limiting the spread of the virus through maintaining COVID-19 safeguards gives the virus fewer chances to change. It also reduces the spread of more infectious variants, if they do occur.
Vaccines are the medical miracle of 2020, but we need to re-emphasize basic public health measures, including masking, physical distancing, good ventilation indoors and limiting gatherings of people in close proximity with poor ventilation. We give the virus an advantage to evolve when we congregate in more confined spaces, he says.
Should My Family Be Worried About The New Variants Of Covid
The best thing you can do to combat the new COVID-19 variants is to make sure every eligible member of your family is fully vaccinated.
If your child isnt eligible yet for a COVID-19 vaccine, make sure they continue to wear masks in indoor public settings, social distance when possible and avoid risky activities. As always, practice great hand hygiene.
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Deadlier Variant Is Now Dominant Strain Of Covid Cdc Confirms
A mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, known as the British variant or B-117, was found in 66% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases tested during the two weeks ending April 24, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.A second mutation, known as the Brazilian variant or P-1, was found in 5% of new cases during the same period.
Public health officials have been warning that if not enough people are vaccinated as soon as possible, a more virulent coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could take hold and become the dominant strain in the United States. The CDC report confirms that already has happened.
The Lambda Covid Variant Is In California: 5 Things To Know
A new strain of the coronavirus has been found in California. But no need to worry, experts say, since lambda is rarely detected, and delta dominates.
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A new COVID-19 variant named lambda has arrived in California.
The emerging lambda variant has been popping up in the news as it spreads rapidly throughout South America. In California, at least 152 cases have been reported, the first as early as September 2020, according to state public health officials.
Experts say lambda could be more infectious and resistant to vaccines than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. But there is no evidence, at least so far, that its as infectious as the delta variant that now dominates California.
So do Californians need to worry about this new variant? Not just yet, infectious disease specialists say. Heres what you need to know about lambda.
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Is The Mu Variant More Transmissible
There are currently very few studies looking into the Mu variant. As research on this specific variant is all in early stages, its too early to know whether the strain is more transmissible or more severe than other variants.
One pre-print study which is yet to be peer-reviewed says that although the Mu strain is not yet classified as a variant of concern by WHO , the mutations found in the B.1.621 strain could have a synergistic impact on attributes such as reduction of vaccine-induced protection from severe disease, increased transmission and disease severity.
Why Does The Coronavirus Change
Variants of viruses occur when there is a change or mutation to the viruss genes. Ray says it is the nature of RNA viruses such as the coronavirus to evolve and change gradually. Geographic separation tends to result in genetically distinct variants, he says.
Mutations in viruses including the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic are neither new nor unexpected. Bollinger explains: All RNA viruses mutate over time, some more than others. For example, flu viruses change often, which is why doctors recommend that you get a new flu vaccine every year.”
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What Could The Mu Variant Mean For Vaccines
The WHO’s epidemiology report says that preliminary data showed Mu appeared to be more resistant to antibodies.
But Dr Griffin said those lab tests don’t give the full picture to how human immunity works in the real world.
“Those neutralising studies are really useful because they’re quite easy to do and they’re quite quick, but they’re part of the story not the whole story,” he said.
“We need to see that clinically, so in the real world, we do see a change in properties that mean the vaccine actually loses efficacy.”
But If It Is Spreading In The Uk Could The Subvariant Be More Transmissible
It could be. Prof Balloux said the recent rise in sequences of the descendant in the UK indicates it could be about 10 per cent more transmissible than the original Delta strain, so keeping an eye on it is worthwhile.
The emergence of yet another more transmissible strain would be suboptimal. Though, this is not a situation comparable to the emergence of Alpha and Delta that were far more transmissible than any strain in circulation at the time.
Here we are dealing with a potential small increase in transmissibility that would not have a comparable impact on the pandemic.
The sublineage will continued to be monitored in the UK and could be placed under investigation by the WHO.
Work is also under way to test whether it is less well recognised by antibodies, Prof Balloux said.
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Alerts For Further Monitoring
Defined as variants with genetic changes suspected to affect virus characteristics and some indication of posing a future risk, but with unclear evidence of phenotypic or epidemiological impact, requiring enhanced monitoring and repeat assessment after new evidence.
|2021-05||2021-09-01||Identified in May 2021 when it accounted for 0.2% of genomes sequenced in South Africa, rising in June to 1.6% , and in July to 2.0% , similar to the increases of the early detection of the Beta and Delta variants. In June 2021 it was detected in England and China, and as of 13 August 2021 it had also been detected in Portugal, Switzerland, Democratic Republic of the Congo , Mauritius, and New Zealand. C.1.2 contains multiple substitutions and deletions within the spike protein. The variant reportedly mutate at higher rate than other VOCs.|
Delta Is More Contagious Than The Other Virus Strains
One thing that is unique about Delta is how quickly it is spreading, says F. Perry Wilson, MD, a Yale Medicine epidemiologist. Around the world, he says, Delta will certainly accelerate the pandemic. The first Delta case was identified in , and the variant soon became the predominant strain of the virus in both India and then Great Britain. By the end of July, Delta was the cause of more than 80% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases, according to CDC estimates.
A July CDC report on Delta’s transmissibility came after an outbreak that occurred in Provincetown, Mass., after a crowded July 4 weekend, which quickly turned into a cluster of at least 470 cases. While the number of reported “breakthrough” cases in general has been very low in the U.S., three quarters of those infected in Provincetown were people who had been immunized. According to the CDC, even people with breakthrough cases carry tremendous amounts of virus in their nose and throat, and, according to preliminary reports, can spread the virus to others whether or not they have symptoms.
The CDC has labeled Delta a variant of concern, using a designation also given to the Alpha strain that first appeared in Great Britain, the Beta strain that first surfaced in South Africa, and the Gamma strain identified in Brazil.
Because of the math, it grows exponentially and more quickly, he says. So, what seems like a fairly modest rate of infectivity can cause a virus to dominate very quickly.
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There Is Still More To Learn About Delta
One important question is whether the Delta strain will make you sicker than the original virus. But many scientists say they dont know yet. Early information about the severity of Delta included a study from Scotland that showed the Delta variant was about twice as likely as Alpha to result in hospitalization in unvaccinated individuals, but other data has shown no significant difference.
Another question focuses on how Delta affects the body. There have been reports of symptoms that are different than those associated with the original coronavirus strain, Dr. Yildirim says. It seems like cough and loss of smell are less common. And headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are present based on the most recent surveys in the U.K., where more than 90% of the cases are due to the Delta strain, she says.
Experts are starting to learn more about Delta and breakthrough cases. A Public Health England analysis showed at least two vaccines to be effective against Delta. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease and 96% effective against hospitalization from Delta in the studies, while Oxford-AstraZeneca was 60% effective against symptomatic disease and 93% effective against hospitalization. The studies tracked participants who were fully vaccinated with both recommended doses.
Moderna also reported on studies that showed its vaccine to be effective against Delta and several other mutations .
What Does It Mean When Theres A New Variant Of Covid
A variant is a slightly different version of a virus. Viruses grow inside a persons body by making copies of themselves. Sometimes, these copies contain random differences, or mutations. Most of the time mutations dont change anything significant. Sometimes they harm a virus. And sometimes they help it.
If a mutated version of a virus survives, it can start spreading in a community. For example, every flu season, there are usually several strains of the flu going around.
Thats what were hearing about now with the new variants of COVID-19.
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What Is A Covid
Viruses are always changing, and that can cause a new variant, or strain, of a virus to form. A variant usually doesnt affect how the virus works. But sometimes they make it act in different ways.
Scientists around the world are tracking changes in the virus that causes COVID-19. Their research is helping experts understand whether certain COVID-19 variants spread faster than others, how they might affect your health, and how effective different vaccines might be against them.
Where Is It Spreading
Mu was first seen in Colombia in January 2021, when it was given the designation B1621. It has since been detected in 40 countries, but is thought to currently be responsible for only 0.1% of infections globally.
Mu has been much more prevalent in Colombia than anywhere else. When looking at coronavirus samples that have been genetically sequenced, 39% of those analysed in Colombia have been mu though no mu samples have been recorded there in the past four weeks.
In contrast, 13% of samples analysed in Ecuador have been mu, with the variant making up 9% of the samples sequenced in the last four weeks, while in Chile just under 40% of sequenced samples have turned out to be mu over the last month. This suggests that the virus is no longer circulating in Colombia, but is being transmitted in other nearby South American countries.
So far, 45 cases have been identified in the UK through genetic analysis, and it looks like they came from overseas. However, as not all COVID-19 cases end up being sequenced to see which variant they are, its possible that mus prevalence in the UK could be higher.
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Are People With Covid
The WHO stated that further studies are needed to validate the continued effectiveness of vaccines when it comes to preventing transmission of the lambda variant. The new preliminary study suggesting lambda might be more resistant to current vaccines has not been confirmed at this point.
We can get a fairly good sense of what the prevalence is, but as far as infectiousness, disease severity and resistance to vaccines, its going to take a lot more time for us to figure this out, Hsu said.
But most of the news when it comes to vaccines and the current variants of concern and of interest has been reassuring.
Studies show, for example, that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines still hold up well against the delta and alpha mutations, especially when it comes to preventing hospitalizations and deaths . And public health officials generally warn at this point that it is people who are unvaccinated who are at the greatest risk from these variants.
It doesnt matter what variants were talking about. Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do as a society to prevent the spread of COVID and potential new variants, Hsu said.
Indeed, in the United States, the rates of new COVID-19 cases are three times higher in states with low vaccination rates than they are in states with higher rates of vaccination, which is why public health officials continue to urge anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible.