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World faces around 4,000 COVID-19 variants as researchers explore mixed vaccine shots


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World faces around 4,000 COVID-19 variants as researchers explore mixed vaccine shots

By Guy Faulconbridge, Alistair Smout

 

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People wait to receive a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Winding Wheel Theatre, Chesterfield, Britain February 3, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine

 

LONDON (Reuters) - The world faces around 4,000 variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, prompting a race to improve vaccines, Britain said on Thursday, as researchers began to explore mixing doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots.

 

Thousands of variants have been documented as the virus mutates, including the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants which appear to spread more swiftly than others.

 

British Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was very unlikely that the current vaccines would not work against the new variants.

 

“Its very unlikely that the current vaccine won’t be effective on the variants whether in Kent or other variants especially when it comes to severe illness and hospitalisation,” Zahawi told Sky News.

 

“All manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and others, are looking at how they can improve their vaccine to make sure that we are ready for any variant - there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now.”

 

While thousands of variants have arisen as the virus mutates on replication, only a very small minority are likely to be important and to change the virus in an appreciable way, according to the British Medical Journal.

 

The so called British variant, known as VUI-202012/01, has mutations including a change in the spike protein that viruses use to bind to the human ACE2 receptor - meaning that it is probably easier to catch.

 

“We have the largest genome sequencing industry - we have about 50% of the world’s genome sequencing industry - and we are keeping a library of all the variants so that we are ready to respond - whether in the autumn or beyond - to any challenge that the virus may present and produce the next vaccine,” Zahawi said.

 

VACCINE RACE

 

The novel coronavirus - known as SARS-CoV-2 - has killed 2.268 million people worldwide since it emerged in China in late 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

 

Israel is currently far ahead of the rest of the world on vaccinations per head of population, followed by the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, the United States and then Spain, Italy and Germany.

 

Britain on Thursday launched a trial to assess the immune responses generated if doses of the vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca are combined in a two-shot schedule.

 

The British researchers behind the trial said data on vaccinating people with the two different types of vaccines could help understanding of whether shots can be rolled out with greater flexibility around the world. Initial data on immune responses is expected to be generated around June.

 

The trial will examine the immune responses of an initial dose of Pfizer vaccine followed by a booster of AstraZeneca’s, as well as vice versa, with intervals of four and 12 weeks.

 

Both the mRNA shot developed by Pfizer and BioNtech and the adenovirus viral vector vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca are currently being rolled out in Britain, with a 12-week gap between two doses of the same vaccine.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-02-04
 
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1 minute ago, scammed said:

what are the odds a vaccine can work against 4000 variants ?

 

vaccine is not the answer to cv19

According to the experts, pretty damned good. Is your objection based on that fact that 4000 is such a big number?

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4 minutes ago, placeholder said:

According to the experts, pretty damned good. Is your objection based on that fact that 4000 is such a big number?

in a way, with so many mutations,

some are going to have to be radically different, and could just as well be given a new name altogether, like CVherpes,

and a vaccine that works would need to be able to wipe out all virus in the world more or less

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2 minutes ago, scammed said:

in a way, with so many mutations,

some are going to have to be radically different

Why do they have to be? There are a lot of sites on the virus that can show variations. The relevant site is the spike. Are all 4000 variations located on the spike? These are highly techical issues. Rhetorical questions and statements like yours have no scientific significance at all.

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16 minutes ago, scammed said:

in a way, with so many mutations,

some are going to have to be radically different, and could just as well be given a new name altogether, like CVherpes,

What are you basing that on? Everything I've read indicates that none of the variations represent more than a few percent of the total genetic sequence of the spike protein, which is what all the Western-made vaccines are based on. 

 

So only changes to the spike protein are significant and as far as what I've read goes, none of the current spike protein variations invalidate the current vaccines.

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21 minutes ago, scammed said:

in a way, with so many mutations,

some are going to have to be radically different, and could just as well be given a new name altogether, like CVherpes,

and a vaccine that works would need to be able to wipe out all virus in the world more or less

 I think you don't have a very full understanding of the issue, and really have no basis at all other than sheer invention for the claim that some "will have to be radically different and could just as well be given a new name".

 

 There are constraints to how much the virus can change the spike protein, because the virus infects cells by binding to ACE2 receptors on the cell surface via the spike protein, like a key fitting a lock. The shape of the spike protein must therefore always be able to recognise ACE2 or the virus will lose ability to infect, and so cannot vary unchecked beyond certain limits.

 

No-one is suggesting the  hypothetical 4000 variants all occur within the same virus, or all within the spike protein.

 

Vaccines based on mRNA or adenovirus can be quite easily (and very rapidly) changed to reflect new mutations in the spike protein, and different types mixed together (polyvalent vaccine) to provide immunity to multiple variants.

 

Mutations certainly do present a problem, and a problem that is recognised. The new vaccine technologies provide a uniquely flexible way to address these concerns.

 

 

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God help the world if we lock down the planet every time there us a new variant and we have to wait for a new effective vaccine to be rolled out. Some point we have to just roll with what we have and get on with life as best we can.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, RichardColeman said:

God help the world if we lock down the planet every time there us a new variant and we have to wait for a new effective vaccine to be rolled out. Some point we have to just roll with what we have and get on with life as best we can.

 

 

 

 

 

Yet locking the planet down is what many posters here want. The CEO of Moderna said we will have to live with COVID as it will likely be with us forever. One could also add, "just like the common cold and the flu."

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28 minutes ago, ExpatOK said:

Yet locking the planet down is what many posters here want. The CEO of Moderna said we will have to live with COVID as it will likely be with us forever. One could also add, "just like the common cold and the flu."

And yet when isolated poeples such as hunter gatherers who live in the rain forsts come into contact with the common cold and flu for the first time, the results can result in much higher mortality than in populations that have lived with those diseases.. So one day covid will be like those diseases. But not currently. To hasten the coming of that day, populations are being vaccinated.

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7 hours ago, RichardColeman said:

God help the world if we lock down the planet every time there us a new variant and we have to wait for a new effective vaccine to be rolled out. Some point we have to just roll with what we have and get on with life as best we can.

 

 

 

 

 

if history is any indication

 

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14 hours ago, snoop1130 said:
12 hours ago, partington said:

 I think you don't have a very full understanding of the issue, and really have no basis at all other than sheer invention for the claim that some "will have to be radically different and could just as well be given a new name".

 

 There are constraints to how much the virus can change the spike protein, because the virus infects cells by binding to ACE2 receptors on the cell surface via the spike protein, like a key fitting a lock. The shape of the spike protein must therefore always be able to recognise ACE2 or the virus will lose ability to infect, and so cannot vary unchecked beyond certain limits.

 

No-one is suggesting the  hypothetical 4000 variants all occur within the same virus, or all within the spike protein.

 

Vaccines based on mRNA or adenovirus can be quite easily (and very rapidly) changed to reflect new mutations in the spike protein, and different types mixed together (polyvalent vaccine) to provide immunity to multiple variants.

 

Mutations certainly do present a problem, and a problem that is recognised. The new vaccine technologies provide a uniquely flexible way to address these concerns.

 

 

 

Not hypothetical. As stated "there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now." That's not a hypothesis, its a statement of fact

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A part of Evolution is constant mutation of the genomes of every living species .

Sometimes these mutations are beneficial for the species , sometimes not .

Without mutations there would be no evolution of species .

Mutations that do not help the species to survive just disappear after some time .

 

Now we can witness the evolution of a virus .

Even considered as not ' being alive ' the virus is changing ( evolving ) all the time .

If the virus is present everywhere and transmitted in large numbers , the mutations will accelerate .

It all depends if it will be possible to stop the spread of the virus , or not .

 

But the question remains about why this virus appeared in the first time , and what purpose does it serve ...

 

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12 hours ago, partington said:

Vaccines based on mRNA or adenovirus can be quite easily (and very rapidly) changed to reflect new mutations in the spike protein, and different types mixed together (polyvalent vaccine) to provide immunity to multiple variants.

Mutations in the spike protein may lead to the virus becoming more infectious , as we can see in the british , brazilian and south african variants .

More infections = more mutations .

But if these mutations will be limited to the spike protein only , is simply not known yet .

Neither is , if the vaccinations really will be effective against all mutations ...

It is way too early to speculate on this . Time will tell ...

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31 minutes ago, nobodysfriend said:

But the question remains about why this virus appeared in the first time , and what purpose does it serve ...

 

Does that question apply to every virus or only those that originated in China?

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50 minutes ago, nobodysfriend said:

But the question remains about why this virus appeared in the first time , and what purpose does it serve ...

Why should there be any reason for it?   Or purpose?

Why did the sun rise today?  and what purpose does that serve?

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13 hours ago, scammed said:

what are the odds a vaccine can work against 4000 variants ?

 

vaccine is not the answer to cv19

So what is the answer ? Maybe they could start by killing everyone who has the virus ? That would bring the numbers down dramatically and stop spreading !  No. only joking ! But one of the major spreaders is people still flying internationally.

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1 hour ago, jaiyen said:

So what is the answer ? Maybe they could start by killing everyone who has the virus ? That would bring the numbers down dramatically and stop spreading !  No. only joking ! But one of the major spreaders is people still flying internationally.

its ages ago and i dont think i would find the link,

but there was research about our basic immunity,

i think more research could find a way to boost our basic immunity.

at this point, its unlikely virus got anything good in store, maybe its possible to make us immune

to virus altogether

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4 hours ago, PGSan said:

Why should there be any reason for it?   Or purpose?

Why did the sun rise today?  and what purpose does that serve?

Hmmm ... Why are you here ? Why do you exist ? Why does all what we see or feel , exist ? What is it good for ? Nothing ...?

Come on , there should be a reason for it .

I know the reason and said it many times already .

I found out about it by studying Astronomy and Darwin's theory of the evolution of species .

There is a philosophy linked to it , I call it the Astrophilosophy .

It can give ( nearly ) all the answers , but it depends on the questions that you ask ....

 

attached photos are from Nasa's Hubble telescope

 

 

 

image.png.24f2905dd15f21f7c5187794919ebcc6.png

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heic0306a02.tif

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18 hours ago, mrfill said:

Not hypothetical. As stated "there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now." That's not a hypothesis, its a statement of fact

I only said this because I don't understand what this figure is supposed to mean, and because a minister not a scientist said it. 

 

For example on the Covid sequencing public database http://cov-glue.cvr.gla.ac.uk/#/home

the number of amino acid variants compared to the Wuhan reference sequence is listed as above 38,000. I suppose if there are many variants within the same virus the actual number of different viruses detected may be around 4000.

 

This would mean each of the 4000 different viruses had about 10 different unique  amino acid variations.  

 

Perhaps hypothetical was the wrong word though, I admit.

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18 hours ago, nobodysfriend said:

Mutations in the spike protein may lead to the virus becoming more infectious , as we can see in the british , brazilian and south african variants .

More infections = more mutations .

But if these mutations will be limited to the spike protein only , is simply not known yet .

Neither is , if the vaccinations really will be effective against all mutations ...

It is way too early to speculate on this . Time will tell ...

No, it is well known that mutations will not be limited to the spike protein only, and there is no reason that they should be!

 

The genomic sequencing project in the UK has already found thousands of mutations that are not in the spike protein.

see http://cov-glue.cvr.gla.ac.uk/#/home

 

They can and will occur anywhere in the virus. For instance the UK variant of Sars Cov-2 has 23 mutations and only eight of them are in the spike protein. see https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/12/why-new-coronavirus-variants-suddenly-arose-in-uk-and-south-africa/

"Of the 23 mutations in the United Kingdom's variant, 17 are at positions in the genome that alter the building blocks that make up the virus’s proteins, as described in a recent COVID-19 Genomics Consortium report from Loman and his colleagues. The consortium stated such a large shift is so far “unprecedented” for the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight of those changes lie in the region that encodes for the spike protein—the key that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter cells."

 

The reason why the spike protein is important is that the virus uses this to infect cells, and this is why the current vaccines are designed around the spike protein. These vaccines will cause the production of neutralising antibodies, that is antibodies that stick to the viruses' spike protein and prevent it infecting cells, as well as tagging it for destruction by the immune system.

 

Other kinds of vaccine are being developed that will almost certainly be able to cope with viruses that have mutations in the spike protein, for example the Valneva vaccine.

 

This is a traditional vaccine that uses the entire inactivated Sars CoV-2 virus as the injected antigen. This means that it will generate antibodies that bind to every accessible part of the virus including, but not limited to, the spike protein.  For the virus to evade this kind of vaccine it would need to have multiple major mutations in all regions.

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On 2/5/2021 at 8:13 AM, mrfill said:

Not hypothetical. As stated "there are about 4,000 variants around the world of COVID now." That's not a hypothesis, its a statement of fact

What was hypothetical about it was not the fact that there are 4,000 variants (though that number is not definitive, as far as I know). It was the statement that because there are so many, some "will have to be radically different and could just as well be given a new name".

 

That is just pure speculation and in fact according to most virologists that have spoken to this, none of the variants so far do seem to radically alter the virus, nor do they appear to alter it so much that it will elude the current vaccines.

 

So far, it appears that each time they test any of the vaccines against any of the variants, the vaccines still seem to work, although with a couple of them (the Novavax and Jansen vaccines which are not actually approved yet) it was reported that they seemed to be less effective overall against the South African variant (while still preventing serious illness or death).

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On 2/5/2021 at 9:53 AM, Mike Rodik said:

I guess this will work as good as the flu shot...

The flu shots depend on a certain amount of guesswork. Namely epidemiologist have to guess which  strains of flu will be predominant in any specific hear and formulate the shots for that. But their guesswork is rarely 100% accurate. So far, that's not a problem with Covid. Keep in mind that the corona viruses and flu viruses are very far apart in terms of relatedness. So what is a very effective approach for Covid won't be so effective for  influenza. .

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