CORONAVIRUS INFO PROVIDED BY DR. JIM HARRIS – 01/10/2021

1/10/2021

Current Texas Data only intermittently available these days. 

J. Harris: I think, on the basis of the currently available information,  the vaccines will cover the mutations. I feel more comfortable that two injections are better than one. Some of the information below is understandable. 

Current Mutation Info from Hopkins:

EMERGING VARIANTS Information and analyses continue to emerge about newly identified SARS-CoV-2 variants, most notably B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK) and B.1.351 (first identified in South Africa). Both variants appear to be more transmissible than the variants that circulated earlier in the pandemic, including those that are still circulating widely in most places around the world, but research is ongoing to fully characterize them. Perhaps the biggest concern is the potential that these variants could be less susceptible to newly authorized vaccines or therapeutic drugs. Preliminary research (preprint), conducted by researchers at Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), provides evidence that the Pfizer vaccine is efficacious against both the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants. The study was conducted on blood specimens collected from vaccinated individuals, as opposed to data collected from clinical trials in humans, but it does provide initial confidence that the vaccine will remain a capable tool against the new variants.

Another study published recently (preprint) by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle, Washington, US), analyzed the effects of various mutations on the virus’ susceptibility to antibody treatments. The researchers found that variants with the E484K mutation, such as the B.1.351 variant, “have greatly reduced susceptibility to neutralization by the…serum antibodies of some individuals.” In fact, they observed decreased neutralization on the order of 10-fold or greater for variants with this mutation. They believe this is a result of changes to the receptor binding domain, which stimulates the majority of the antibody response. Notably, the researchers found that the N501Y mutation present in the B.1.1.7 variant “is unlikely to greatly affect neutralization by most human sera,” an encouraging indication. Further research is needed to better characterize the effects of these and other emerging variants—including their effects on disease severity, transmissibility, and susceptibility to medical countermeasures —but these studies provide insight into the potential impact these variants can have on the COVID-19 pandemic.

How will coronavirus variants affect the US? 6 considerations

J. Harris: Readable review of some mutants

Genetic Variants of SARS-CoV-2—What Do They Mean? 

Extensive review.

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