New virus mutation raises vaccine questions | Macau Business

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As the British coronavirus variant occupies countries' pandemic plans due to its increased transmissibility, other mutations to the Sars-CoV-2...
are provoking concern among scientists who are scrambling to work out if they will still respond to vaccines.

In particular, one mutation, known as E484K, detected initially in South Africa and on subsequent variants in Brazil and Japan, has raised alarm among researchers.

Ravi Gupta, professor of microbiology at the University of Cambridge, said it is this mutation — and not the much-covered British variant — that is "the most worrying of all".

Although research into the new variant is limited, a Brazilian study this month looked at a patient who had recovered from Covid-19 only to become reinfected with the new, mutated strain.

The paper has yet to be peer-reviewed, but the authors found that the E484K mutation could be "associated with escape from neutralising antibodies" — meaning it could bypass the body's natural defence memory that bestows immunity.

As countries accelerate their vaccination programmes, there is concern that the new mutation may render certain vaccines less effective.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, for example, use mRNA technology to deliver instructions to the body to produce a harmless coronavirus spike protein, which the immune system then learns to kill in anticipation of a genuine infection.

With E484K, as with the British variant,…
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