A New Coronavirus Variant Is Spreading in New York, Researchers Report – The New York Times
Other experts said the sudden appearance of coronavirus variants was worrying.
“Given the involvement of E484K or S477N, combined with the fact that the New York region has a lot of standing immunity from the spring wave, this is definitely one to watch,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, who was not involved in the new research efforts.
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The E484K mutation has independently cropped up in many different parts of the world, an indication that it offers the virus a significant advantage.
“Variants that have an advantage are going to rise pretty fast in frequency, especially when numbers are coming down over all,” said Andrew Read, an evolutionary microbiologist at Penn State University.
Dr. Ho’s team reported in January that the monoclonal antibodies made by Eli Lilly, and one of the monoclonal antibodies in a cocktail made by Regeneron, are powerless against the variant identified in South Africa.
And several studies have now shown that variants containing the E484K mutation are less susceptible to the vaccines than was the original form of the virus. The mutation interferes with the activity of a class of antibodies that nearly everyone makes, Dr. Nussenzweig said.
“People who have recovered from the coronavirus or who have been vaccinated are very likely to be able to fight this variant off, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. But “they may get a little bit sick from it.”
They may also infect others and keep the virus circulating, which might delay herd immunity, he added.
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