COVID-19 test

Effective Antibodies Against Coronavirus Strains Detected

A preliminary study has published this discovery

COVID-19 test
Antibodies that seem to be effective against the new COVID variants have been detected | iSTOCK

Coronavirus has been the main topic for almost a year now. To the discoveries and research on the virus has been added a new concern (several, really): coronavirus strains.

Experts are keeping a close eye on the evolution of these variants to detect what is the best path to take and what the health consequences are. The fact is that these variants spread more rapidly and are a major concern for scientists and epidemiologists.

The Spanish Ministry of Health published on February 22 a report with information on the main variants and other variants of interest.

The main ones include the British, South African and Brazilian (Manaus area) variants. Four other strains are also mentioned which, for the moment, are having a lesser impact, but they also exist. 

One of the major concerns of experts and the general public has to do with vaccination. Do the vaccines against COVID-19 also work for these new variants? How effective are they? Will new vaccines have to be developed?

Although all these questions are still under study, there is good news: a preliminary study published in BioRxiv explains that two antibodies have been found to be effective against the British and South African variants (B.1.1. and B.1.351). 

These are antibodies 1-57 and 2-7, as the media Redacción médica has discovered. The mutations present in the British and South African variants have a greater capacity to avoid the most common neutralizing antibodies. 

However, these two new antibodies that have been detected have not been affected. That is, the mutations have not evaded the neutralizing potency of antibodies 1-57 and 2-7. 

These two antibodies, moreover, have a different mechanism to avoid or accommodate the mutations. Each of these antibodies responded differently to the most common antibodies.

The experts who prepared the study, which has not yet been reviewed, explain that both could be a good option to protect ourselves from coronavirus. 

The British and South African variants

As can be read in the variant report of the Spanish Ministry of Health, the British variant is predominant in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Israel "and has a rapid progression in other countries (especially European countries)".

In fact, in Spain, a total of 898 confirmed cases have been detected, so far, according to the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Center. This variant stands out because it has a higher transmission, and more than 8,600 cases have been detected in 31 countries in Europe. 

Instead,  the South African variant is found in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and there are "cases in numerous European countries", in addition to having a "significant presence" in Tyrol (Austria), according to the report of variants of the Spanish Ministry of Health.

The third strain of concern is the Brazilian variant, whose cases are in the Manaus region, as well as in other countries, "most of them with a known link to Brazil".

In the second table of the table of variants of the Spanish Ministry of Health we can find, under study to discover potential public health impact, the following variants:

  • P.2: It is found in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), and isolated cases have also been detected in other countries, "travel-related".
  • B.1.525: The countries where cases of this variant have been found are Denmark, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, USA, Canada and countries related to Nigeria. 
  • B.1.429: This variant has increased its cases in November-December in California. 
In addition to these variants, we also found VOC 202102/02, which is similar to B.1.1.7 (the British one) and "possible greatest escape to immune response". Twenty-three cases have been confirmed in England and one case in the Netherlands.
[This is a translation of the original article "Detectan anticuerpos eficaces contra las variantes del coronavirus que más preocupan" published in]