Sir Patrick told a Downing Street briefing in January: “It may bind more firmly to the virus receptor and enter cells more easily. It may grow more easily in certain types of cells. These are the things people look at and more information will come. “
However, scientists are more confident that vaccines will always protect against the variant, with growing evidence that those who were infected with the first strain appeared to be protected against the new one.
Moderna announced on January 25 that its Covid-19 vaccine was producing virus-neutralizing antibodies in lab tests against new coronavirus variants found in the UK. Pfizer and AstraZeneca also believe their vaccines will still work against the UK variant. The same goes for the new vaccine Novavax, but not yet licensed.
Genomic sequencing identified a mutation in the spike protein, both in the original strain and in the new Kent variant of the virus. The E484K mutation resembles that seen in the South African and Brazilian variants, the part that locks onto human cells – but they are not the same. All of them have occurred in areas where there have been recent strong spikes in Covid cases.
Experts warned that it was “inevitable” that strains already present in the UK would mutate as a result of natural selection. However, they said it was too early to determine whether the mutation would become dominant over other forms of Covid.
What do we know about the new B1525 variant?
32 cases of the B1525 variant have been discovered in the UK, experts say.
The variant has been discovered in various countries around the world, including Australia, Denmark, the United States and Canada. However, the case in Canada was linked to travel from Nigeria.
Dr Simon Clarke, from the University of Reading, said The Guardian: “We do not yet know how much this [new] variant spreads, but if successful, it can be assumed that immunity to any previous vaccine or infection will be blunted.
“I think until we know more about these variants, all variants that carry E484K should be subjected to surge testing as it appears to confer resistance to immunity no matter how it is.” generated. “
Experts have called for more “ surge testing ” until more is known about the variant.
How simple is the vaccine update process?
In theory, this should be pretty straightforward. As long as the changes to the vaccines are modest (only four or five changes to the more than 1000 amino acids of the spike protein), new vaccines can be produced quickly and without lengthy regulatory approval. New RNA vaccines like the one manufactured by Pfizer can also be changed more quickly than conventional vaccines.