COVID-19 Variant news in South Africa emerged suspiciously close to news of a variant in the UK. So, many people feel rather sceptical about it. But it appears to be a genuine finding. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize noted that it’s possible the new SA variant could drive the second wave. Naturally, people wonder if the variant might impact the efficiency of the vaccine.
COVID-19 Variant in SA differs from the UK one
When eNCA carried the news about the SA variant on YouTube, many people commented that they simply don’t believe it. In fact, some people just think the Minister only jumps on the bandwagon of the UK to “scare” people into taking the vaccine. Well, it seems that he’s not just “scaremongering,” and this variant is very real. And no, it differs from the one in the UK. That news came from Dr Emma Hodcroft who runs a thread on it on Twitter. Hodcroft’s profile explains that she knows a thing or two about it.
Her Twitter describes Emma as the Co-developer of @nextstrain at @ISPMBern @unibern. Apparently, they use “programming & phylogenetics” to “study & track viruses.” Using charts, Dr Emma Hodcroft demonstrated that the SA COVID-19 Variant differs from the UK one. She wrote, “In the tree below, the UK variant is in green at the top. The SA variant is the one with large yellow circles nearer the bottom. Though it’s a bit hard to see in this tree, they are quite distant genetically: they have many mutations they do not share!”
Vaccine efficiency not known yet but the variant might affect that
You can follow the entire thread on this Twitter link. But, we looked for what she said about the possible effect on the efficiency of the vaccine. Certainly, it sounds like the doctor’s being flooded with questions right now. And, not all the answers are known yet. But some people asked about the efficiency of the vaccine as the virus produced these variants.
One of her tweets said, “Will it impact the vaccine? I don’t think we know for sure yet. Hopefully not. The vaccine causes your body to recognise many parts of spike, so a few changes should not mean it stops working. However impact of more changes is less sure – scientists investigating this now.” So, it seems that while the SA COVID-19 Variant might impact the vaccine, nobody knows for sure.
Scientists remain hopeful
Nevertheless, scientists remain hopeful. In a later update, another doctor joined the conversation about vaccines. Dr Krutika Kuppalli noted: “Right now at #ACIP a question about how the @moderna vaccine may work against the new mutant strains of #COVID19 being identified such as those in the UK. They are currently evaluating this but so far things appear okay and will do deep sequencing on breakthrough cases.”
Then, Dr de Bear from the UK posted, “Right now there isn’t evidence that the mutation makes the virus any worse once you get it, but if there are more cases, a higher number of people will be seriously ill, even if the proportion stays the same. Currently no concerns about the vaccine.”
Well, it’s early days yet and scientists still look at the COVID-19 Variant in SA and the UK. Nevertheless, for now, they remain hopeful that the vaccine will still work.
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