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Virus variants being more infectious, deadlier and some may escape vaccines – study

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

These are the results of some of the recent scientific studies on the new coronavirus and how we have been following up in finding a cure and Covid 19 vaccines.

Several SARS-CoV-2 variants can “escape” Covid vaccines.

According to a new study, vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE are proving less effective at neutralizing several SARS-CoV-2 variants.

To carry out their study, scientists collected blood samples of 99 individuals, who had already received at least one dose of any vaccine and examined antibodies introduced by the vaccine in the immune system against the virus replicas on 10 most circulating variants.

But in both cases, whether individuals took one dose or two doses of the vaccines, 5 out of the 10 variants were “highly resistant to neutralization”.

All 5 highly resistant variants found to have mutations in the spike on the virus surface – known as K417N/T, E484K, and N501Y – that characterize a variant spreading in South Africa and 2 variants catching Brazil.

If we compare it with earlier studies, the percentage of neutralizing antibodies slashed to 5 to 6 fold against the Brazil variants and 20 to 44 fold against the variants found in South Africa.

A new variant spreading now in New York found to have the E484K mutation.

“While studies of the New York variant are ongoing, our findings suggest that similar variants harboring E484K may be harder for vaccine-induced antibodies to neutralize,” says study lead author Alejandro Balazs from Harvard University and the Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Despite our results,” he said adding that, “it’s important to consider that vaccines raise other kinds of immune responses which could protect against developing severe disease.”

British Variant is deadlier

A new study, published on medRxiv under peer-review, carried out with the help of available data from mid-November to mid-January on 184,786 people diagnosed with COVID-19, including 867 deaths in the UK, found that the risk of dying from B.1.1.7 variant was much higher, almost 67%, then the risk with other variants in Britain.

“Crucially,” the researchers wrote, “emerging data suggest that the currently approved vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 are effective against the B.1.1.7.”

Brazil Variant identified as more infectious

A recent study, under peer-review available on medRxiv, carried out between November and January in Brazil, the frequency of COVID-19 cases involving the P.1 coronavirus variant increased from non-existent to 73%, and the number of infections there quadrupled compared to what the city experienced in the first wave of the pandemic. Based on national health surveillance data, the authors estimate that the P.1 variant is roughly 2.5 times more transmissible than previous variants circulating in Manaus. The spread of P.1 occurred despite the fact that 68% of the city’s population had already been infected by the original strain of the coronavirus, the researchers noted. In their analysis, the risk of reinfection with P.1 was low.

“The P.1 variant has already been detected in at least 25 countries,” the authors said. “This calls for urgent … studies of the P.1 variant, since greater transmissibility and pathogenicity can drive even well-prepared health systems to collapse.”

To avoid infection, a new CPR technique adds distance

To avoid coronavirus infection during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), medical professionals can increase their distance from the patient by doing chest compressions using the unshod heel of the foot – known as leg-heel compression – instead of their hands, a new study suggests. Researchers had 20 medical professionals perform standard manual chest compression followed by leg-heel chest compression after a brief instruction on a manikin. There was no difference in any of the variables measured, including correct placement of the heel for purposes of compression, correct depth of chest compression, and the compression rate. The study found potential spread of breath droplets from the patient to the person performing CPR would likely be minimized with leg-heel compression.

“Under special circumstances like COVID-19-pandemic, leg-heel chest compression may be an effective alternative … compared to manual chest compression while markedly increasing the distance to the patient,” the researchers concluded in the latest study published on Monday on medRiv under peer review.

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