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The unchecked spread of the more contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant in Brazil appears to have created a more dangerous version of the virus that causes COVID-19.
The changes are documented by a team of researchers at FIOCRUZ, a large public health institute run by the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Survey results posted recently With preprint on Virological.org, Prior to peer review.
This study describes 11 SARS-CoV-2 sequences from 5 different states in Brazil. Each produced a clear change in the receptor binding domain, making it one of the known mutants of interest or mutants of interest. Each made additional changes to the N-terminal domain, another important region of the virus.
The change in the N-terminal domain was a deletion of an important antibody binding site. Many of these are significant deletions around Y144, a mutation that occurs independently in other circulating variants and has been reported in viral mutations in convalescent cancer patients, providing significant viral benefits. It suggests that.
Modeling by the FIOCRUZ team suggests that deletions further disrupt the ability of antibodies to grab the virus and prevent them from infecting cells.
“These findings indicate the efficacy of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine against these urgent SARS-CoV-2 variants and the ongoing regulation in Brazil for the production of more contagious variants. There is an urgent need to address the risk of community infection with SARS-CoV-2, “the study author writes.
Must “shut down replication”
Brazil is in the midst of another devastating wave of COVID-19 infection, fueled by malformations and political inaction. Hospitals have run out of other important supplies such as beds, ventilators and oxygen, and Brazilian President Jail Bolsonaro opposes the idea of asking the public to wear masks and refusing to carry out lockdowns. Said that the price to the country’s economy was too high.
Researchers who were not involved in the study said the findings should warn other parts of the world.
“It’s not surprising, but I’m concerned,” said John Melers, MD, MD, Head of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Mellors and his colleagues were part of a team of researchers who recorded a deletion at position 144 of the N-terminal domain, one of the same changes in patients who fought the virus for more than two months.
Over time, genomic sequencing reveals that patients who attempt to enhance their immune response with convalescent plasma and the antiviral drug remdesivir are hosts of at least six different SARS-CoV-2 mutants. became. The mutants had many of the mutations carried by the mutants of concern that occurred in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
The removal of the N-terminal domain described in the new preprint has also been detected in other parts of the world.
“The fact that the same deletions are selected independently of each other really suggests that these domains are really important for antibody neutralization,” said Kevin, a postdoctoral fellow in infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. McCormick said. medicine.
A Another studyWas published in the journal earlier this month Science, 144 was found to disrupt the binding of antibody 48A.
In response to infections and vaccines, our body creates an entire orchestra of Y-shaped antibodies designed to grab the virus in slightly different locations. Therefore, losing one of these antibody docking sites on the virus is not necessarily a source of vigilance. However, the more the shape of SARS-CoV-2 changes and changes, the more the immune defense loses its collective punch, and eventually the change causes the virus to reinfect or the defense created by the vaccine. Is disabled.
just now, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is tracking mutations, has no viral mutations that could cause a complete failure of testing, vaccines, or treatment.
“The biggest move we all need to do is to vaccinate as extensively as possible to prevent virus replication,” says Mellors. “There is no replication or evolution. So if you shut down and spread the replication, it’s okay. It’s a huge and huge effort to shut it down all over the world.”
John Melers, MD, Head of Infectious Diseases, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Virological.org. Published March 18, 2021. Preprint