B.1.1.7 follow up

In my previous post, I listed some questions about the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 recently confirmed in the United Kingdom (UK). Here, let us follow up some of the issues,

  1. Provided the new virus becomes more infectious, is it getting more deadly? Probably yes. As reported by BBC, preliminary findings suggested that B.1.1.7 might be more deadly.
  2. Are younger people more susceptible? Probably yes. The Wall Street Journal reported the preliminary findings that B.1.1.7 might pose an increased risk to younger people.
  3. Can the new virus re-infect those recovered patients? Still unknown; yet, as warned by Science Magazine, there was an alarming possibility that B.1.1.7 could cause more reinfections.
  4. Are the vaccines and other established treatments still effective on that new virus? Yes and no. According to BBC, at least some laboratory findings revealed that the antibodies (elicited by Moderna vaccine) were still effective on the new variants; whereas an article from CNBC reported that the antibody therapy manufactured by Eli Lilly might expect a reduction of its effectiveness on 501.V2, the variant identified in South Africa. Its effectiveness on B.1.1.7 was still being evaluated.
  5. Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). According to two scientific papers published in Nature, Arvin et al (2020) has reviewed this phenomenon, for example, they described how the antibodies led to the enhancement of disease severity. Recently, Legros et al (2021) reported that those more severe clinical cases of COVID-19 might not be related to ADE.

Since then, another major variant (P.1.) was identified in Brazil. Based on the preliminary findings presented by Faria et al (2021), three effective mutations were highlighted. They were namely, E484K, K417T, and N501Y. While E484K and N501Y were also present in 501.V2, K417T was also a mutation of the spike protein similar to K417N (found in 501.V2); yet, K417T was relatively less well studied. Currently, we could hypothesize certain similarities between P.1. and 501.V2.

Some, if not all, of the information above was reported by the media only. Indeed, more properly reviewed scientific research is needed to confirm the stories. Let us continue to keep an eye on the virus variants (identified in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil) as well as the protective efficiency of the vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

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