Vaccines may be less effective against the variant that has come to dominate in South Africa, but are expected to have some benefit
Dr. Madhi and Dr. Gray said results from the South African trials on the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be available in the coming weeks. Because participants will have mostly come into contact with the new variant, the results will show how vaccinated people respond to the mutations, rather than just conducting tests with virus cells and antibodies produced in a lab.
Scientists haven't determined how much less effective the vaccines could be on the new variant, if at all, but the trials could help answer that.
“It’s a very unique opportunity,” said Dr. Gray.
Concern over the South African variant’s impact on the efficacy of vaccines has centered on a mutation dubbed E484K. Researchers believe that mutation has changed the shape of the virus’s spike protein, which it uses to attach to and infect human cells, in a way that makes it harder for some antibodies to get a good grip and neutralize the virus.
It is normal for viruses to mutate and most mutations observed so far in the coronavirus have made little difference to how it functions. The South African variant,
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