Health

What we can do to protect ourselves from new COVID-19 strains?

In the UK, Christmas is usually a fun time, providing light and cheers in the harsh winter depths. But last year was a different scene. At first glance, a more toxic variant of COVID-19 occurred just before the festival. First detected in September, it accounted for one-quarter of infected cases by November and nearly two-thirds by mid-December.1

The timing of this COVID-19 mutant was disappointing, but not surprising to immunologists. When a virus replicates, changes to basic genetic information occur naturally. Most of these changes are virus dead ends or do not affect the risk of the virus, but there may be changes that enhance the virus. The more people who get infected, the more likely they are to develop fatal mutations or strains. For example, in the 1918 influenza pandemic, about 80% of reported illnesses and deaths were due to the second wave.2

What can be done to protect yourself from the more deadly threat of the COVID-19 strain, as the tendency to mutate is characteristic of the pathogen?Immunologist Dr. Larisa Labzin University of Queensland He says there are many things to consider.

Immunize completely and quickly

The government made a tough decision as a new variant of Britain infuriated the population. By delaying the second dose, more people will be vaccinated with a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The gambling took place quickly without the help of clinical data. Pfizer recommended that a second dose of the vaccine be given within 3 weeks of the first dose to achieve a maximum efficacy rate of 95%, as demonstrated in clinical trials.3 However, a single dose provides about 52% protection,Four The government believed that a wider deployment of initial doses could reduce the demand for acute care during times of resource shortage.

However, Dr. Labzin said this approach can be dangerous. “If a person who receives a single dose of the vaccine returns to normal behavior and is exposed to the virus, the insufficient level of immunity is sufficient” selective pressure “for the virus to counterattack and mutate. May be produced in the body. “She said.

“In contrast, two vaccinations elicit an immune response that is strong enough to completely eliminate the virus from the recipient’s body before the virus adapts,” she added.

However, sticking to manufacturing guidelines and choosing a quality approach over quantity in the deployment of Pfizer vaccines can have similar consequences, and mutations occur when the virus is given the opportunity to replicate in large numbers of people. It will be easier. Government decisions can be rewarded if more citizens get at least one jab and that jab prevents at least some viral infections.

“The authorities are very demanding, and only time and additional data from genomic sequencing and transmissibility studies will confirm that they have made the right choice,” said Dr. Labzin. ..

Prioritize the development of antiviral agents

Similarly, drugs that reduce the time you stay infected with the COVID-19 virus can help prevent mutations, given that some people may or may not be vaccinated.

“If we can help people infected with COVID-19 get better faster, we can minimize the time it takes for the virus to adapt and grow stronger in the body,” says Dr. Labzin.

“There are new variants of COVID-19, such as the South African variant, but vaccines aren’t very effective. Drugs that directly target the virus, like antibiotics do against bacteria, are the most promising. It’s one of the alternatives. “

Currently, COVID-19 antivirals are not approved by TGA, but some are under development. Dr. Labzin said it is worth prioritizing research on these drugs and making them readily available for mainstream use.

Keep the distance in the meantime

Good old social distance, hygiene and PPE are still required while everyone is vaccinated and waiting for effective antivirals to be developed.

This may be especially important for immunocompromised people who are susceptible to long-term illness due to COVID-19.Five Their bodies are likely to enter an “arms race” with the virus, facilitating the evolution of new strains.

If these measures fail to control the case, it may mean that the virus has ample opportunity to escape vaccine-induced immunity. This means that new vaccine formulations need to be continually developed. This may already be facing some of the new variants of South Africa.

“Influenza has become very good at evading vaccine immunity, so new variants are seen each year and the vaccine needs to be renewed,” said Dr. Labzin.

“With regular vaccine updates, it’s very likely that we’ll see a similar scenario with COVID-19. This is a contingency we need to prepare,” she concludes. It was.

References

  1. New Coronavirus Mutants: What Do We Know? https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55388846.
  2. 1918 Pandemic Influenza: Three Waves. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/three-waves.htm.
  3. Pfizer and BIONTECH have completed Phase 3 studies of COVID-19 vaccine candidates and meet all key efficacy endpoints-https: //www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release -detail / pfizer-and-biontech-conclude-Phase-3-Study-covid-19-Vaccine.
  4. Covid-19: The paper shows that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine was 52% after the first dose and 95% after the second dose. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4826.
  5. In case of immunodeficiency, protect yourself from COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/immunocompromised.html.

Image Credit: © stock.adobe.com / au / Feydzhet Shabanov

What we can do to protect ourselves from new COVID-19 strains? Source link What we can do to protect ourselves from new COVID-19 strains?

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