Covid-19: Three cases of SA variant detected in Ireland

Sunday, 10 Jan, 2021

There were 4,920 COVID-19 patients occupying hospital inpatient beds on Friday.

The COVID-19 South African variant has officially made its way to Canada and Alberta is reporting the first case of it.

Laboratory studies have shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can still target a key mutation that has emerged in two new variants of coronavirus.

Bushman, who wasn't involved with the Pfizer study, cautioned that it tested just one vaccine against one worrisome mutation. "I'm hoping that the additional work that comes out in the future will fall in line with that finding". Since then, it has turned up in 45 countries.

While there is no evidence to suggest that the new strain of the virus is any more severe, it may be more contagious than other strains.

The viral lineage leading to B.1.1.7 has accumulated 23 mutations. According to Balloux, the South African variant shows more spike protein mutation than the United Kingdom variant, which might help the virus escape the immune protection provided by vaccination or prior infection. The spike protein plays a crucial role when the virus infects human cells.

"A mutation will change one little place, but it's not going to disrupt binding to all of them", Bushman explained.

"It's possible that you're going to see strains emerge that are more pathogenic, that either cause more severe disease or bind more tightly to certain receptors". That variant, called B.1.351, rapidly spread through the country, and has spread to a dozen other countries so far.

The two strains share a mutation known as N501Y that scientists worry could allow the virus to evade the immune protection generated by a vaccine. It also needs to be confirmed if the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective against this variant of the virus.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top USA infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press this week that vaccines are created to recognize multiple parts of the spike protein, making it unlikely a single mutation could be enough to block them.

One case is linked to the South African strain, the ministry said.