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By: Dr. Shah

SARS-CoV2 is a novel virus that has resulted in a global pandemic and can result in severe acute respiratory syndrome (COVID19). It has been recently reported that the spike gene has started accumulating mutations which is critical for virus entry into cells.

These mutations define the strain of the virus. A variant first identified in the United Kindom, B.1.1.7, causes mutations at the 501 position of the spike gene and results in at least a 50% increase in transmissibility or infectiousness. The South African Variant, B.1.351, contains additional mutations and appears to be more resistant to antibodies.  When antibodies from donors were given to individuals with the South African variant, almost 50% of individuals did not respond to the neutralizing antibodies.

There is some growing concern of the effectivness of vaccines because they have been developed at a rapid pace  

A recent study out of South Africa, (Efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 Covid-19 Vaccine against the B.1.351 Variant (nih.gov)), was recently published.  The purpose of this study was to assess the safety of vaccines against emerging strains of COVID19.  Individuals who have received the Astra-Zeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) vaccine were tested to see if the antibodies developed were effective against various virus variants, and the results showed that a two-dose regimen of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine DID NOT protect against mild to moderate COVID19 that was caused by the South African variant. However, the vaccine was quite effective against the original COVID-19 strain.

This study demonstrates the continous need for testing, which, thankfully, we are constantly doing at Applied InGENuity Diagnostics.

We performs testing for both the UK and South African variants. In addition, we can perform neutralizing antibody assays similar to what was done in this research paper to evaluate if an individual has truly protective immunity against COVID19.

 

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