In the past few weeks, the two new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 from the United Kingdom and South Africa have been the primary topic of discussion. While the strains are not likely to be more dangerous than the previous one, the N501Y mutation within the spike proteins of both can make them more infectious.
According to scientists, this is because the mutation allows the virus to bind to cells more easily. Hence, it will be much easier for both the strains to spread from one person to another, thereby increasing overall transmission rates.
Another concern related to the UK and South African strains is that the newly developed and approved coronavirus vaccines will not protect from them. Initially, scientists considered this possibility but stated that it is highly unlikely that the vaccines would work against the new strains.
Now, a new study conducted by researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Pfizer has investigated the issue further and shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective in protecting from the strains with N501Y mutation.
Read the study here.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined two participants postvaccination. In all the participants, the Pfizer vaccine neutralised the SARS-CoV-2 viruses. This is because the vaccine produces a broad immune response in the body.
Therefore, the vaccine is likely to work against not only the two new strains with N501Y mutation but also most of the strains with new mutations that may spread in the future.
Since the virus has the opportunity to mutate whenever it spreads to a new person, it is possible that there may be multiple new strains of the virus in the coming months of the year.
Although Moderna is still investigating on the new strains, experts are expecting it to work against the strains as well because it also produces a broad immune response like the Pfizer vaccine.
Even though the vaccines are being rolled out across the United States as well as in other countries around the world, experts are still suggesting people to take restrictions for the coronavirus seriously.
Due to the approval of vaccines, the majority is assuming that the guidelines for prevention by health agencies such as the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are no longer needed.
While the fear of new strains did make people take precautions more seriously, the impact is eventually going to fade away.
People should not be afraid that the vaccinations would not work against the strains with new mutations but should still keep in mind that every person needs to follow instructions even after getting a coronavirus shot, as said by scientists.
Vaccines alone cannot end the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as an even distribution throughout the world is next to impossible. Additionally, the whole process is going to take a lot of time from months to possibly half a year.
Therefore, collaborative effort of people along with patience is needed in ending the ongoing health crisis as soon as possible.