Can South African corona variant withstand our vaccines?

A new study cautiously suggests that our existing vaccines may be less effective against the South African corona variant.

In the meantime, a new variant of the corona virus has emerged in both Great Britain and South Africa. No one is surprised that the coronavirus is undergoing changes. All viruses evolve. In addition, variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been in circulation since the pandemic began. These are simply the result of a natural process that allows viruses to develop and adapt to their hosts. Yet the South African corona variant may be a different story. Because researchers now cautiously state in a study that this variant may be able to withstand our coveted vaccines.

What’s different?
On the surface of the coronavirus are so-called ‘spikes’: proteins that allow the virus to bind to the ACE2 receptor and penetrate human cells. And now researchers have discovered one mutation in this so-called ‘spike protein’ of the virus in the British variant and two mutations in the virus’s spike protein in the South African variant. These mutations have been associated with higher infectivity, although it does not seem to make people more seriously ill. However, it could mean that the virus spreads faster and that way infects more people. In addition, the mutations can have consequences for how easily you can be re-infected by a variant of the corona virus and for the developed corona vaccines..

When you have contracted the coronavirus, your body produces antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies ensure that you may remain protected against the virus for several months. The chance of re-infection is therefore smaller during this period. But the South African corona variant now appears to be able to avoid these protective antibodies. “The South African corona variant appears to be able to escape the neutralizing antibody response, largely due to the presence of the E484K and K417N mutations,” explains virologist Julian Tang, associated with the University of Leicester to. This means that the South African variety may have found a way to bypass our immune system, increasing the chance of reinfection.

Vaccine
The mutant worries scientists. “This variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be able to partially evade immune protection or a previous infection,” says virologist Lawrence Young, who is associated with the Warwick Medical School, together. This suggests that people could potentially become infected again with a variant of SARS-CoV-2, even if they have previously had COVID-19. It also shows that we urgently need to investigate whether people can still become infected with this variant after vaccination. ” Indeed, because according to the researchers it could mean that the mutations limit the effect of the corona vaccine. “The mutations mean that in some people this may reduce the efficacy of spike protein-based vaccine-induced antibodies,” said Tang.

study
How did the researchers reach that conclusion? In the study, the researchers analyzed the recovering plasma from previously infected corona patients. They then studied the impact of the specific mutations in the spike protein and how they affect the binding of neutralizing antibodies. The research team then observed a high degree of resistance to the restorative plasma. In almost half of the cases (21 of 44, so 48 percent), the plasma turned out to offer no protection against the new variant. It means that previously infected persons may be more susceptible to reinfection. In addition, as mentioned, it also has implications for the effectiveness of current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines which are all based on the original spike protein.

T cells
While that may sound alarming, it does not necessarily have disastrous consequences. Our body also has other ways to get rid of a virus. “Later in the study, the researchers did find significant binding to the South African corona variant via other, non-neutralizing antibodies,” says Tang. “And they can still provide significant protection.” Moreover, we could also look further than just these antibodies. Our body also has T cells, for example. This is a type of white blood cell that specializes in recognizing virus-infected cells. These T cells are thus an essential part of the immune system. In other words, T cells are immune cells and clean up the infection, as it were. Whether the South African corona variant also affects these cells is still unknown.

Battle for the arm
All in all, the researchers are therefore keeping a close eye on things for the time being. “The data is alarming, but it is important to emphasize that these are still laboratory findings,” said Liam Smeeth, professor of clinical epidemiology. “It is very unwise to extrapolate this stage to the clinical effects in humans.” In addition, the study has not yet been peer-reviewed, which means it has not yet been peer-reviewed. Although that will probably not be long. “The research is well done,” says the director of it Rosalind Franklin Institute James Naismith. “It’s not good news, but it’s not entirely unexpected. However, we must not panic. The human immune response in the real world is more than neutralization based on antibodies. ”

British variant
Still, the findings do put scientists on edge. Because what exactly is the situation with the British variant of the corona virus? Recent research has also been carried out on this by another research group. The scientists examined whether the Pfizer vaccine also offers protection against this variant. Twenty-one days after the participants received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, 16 of them had a little blood drawn. The researchers then considered the antibodies. And the results are encouraging. It seems that the vaccine is just doing its job and also blocks an infection from the mutated British coronavirus.

How the vaccine works
Most of us are familiar with how traditional vaccines work. You are injected with a weakened or dead virus, on which your body produces antibodies against that virus. When you then actually come into contact with that virus, you are protected and you will not become or at least less seriously ill. The vaccine that Pfizer developed works differently. The vaccine – designated BNT162b2 – is a so-called mRNA vaccine. The vaccine does not harbor weakened or dead SARS-CoV-2, but messenger RNA (mRNA): a molecule that contains the genetic instructions for making the characteristic spike proteins found on the outside of the virus. After vaccination, our cells start working with these instructions and produce these spike proteins, after which our body can produce antibodies against them. It is a completely new approach, which is very promising, especially in the case of COVID-19, because mRNA vaccines can be produced much faster than traditional vaccines. It is also easier to scale up and produce large quantities of the vaccines.

Thus, the findings indicate that the Pfizer vaccine should still be optimally effective against the UK variant. Why does the vaccine protect against the British mutant and may be less effective against the South African? “Unlike the South African variety, the British variety has only one mutation (N501Y),” explains Tang. So it remains to be seen whether the Pfizer vaccine will protect against other variants as well, as some mutations are more significant than others. Moreover, there are probably more mutations to come. “The more the virus circulates among people, the more mutations there will be,” says Ayfer Ali, associate professor at the Warwick Business School. “And the more mutations, the greater the chance that the vaccine will not work. However, the fact that the Pfizer vaccine produces antibodies that can neutralize the British variant is reassuring. ”

Vaccination, vaccination, vaccination
Several studies are now needed to properly map the true impact of the South African corona variant. “In the meantime, we just have to keep vaccinating,” Tang emphasizes. “We also have to observe the current lockdown restrictions in order to protect the vulnerable until each of them has been vaccinated.” Naismith also underlines that it is essential to continue the vaccination program. “We need to vaccinate as many people as possible,” he says. “Current vaccines, even if they do not provide complete protection against future hypothetical variants, may still be effective enough to reduce the severity of a possible new infection.”

In short, it seems that a single vaccine is unlikely to end the corona crisis. “However, we will soon be able to develop new, modified vaccines,” said Naismith. “We must not become discouraged; we have the resources to understand and understand the story. However, it will take time and there will always be some setbacks. ”

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COVID-19: Vaccine effectiveness after first vaccine dose around 33 percent / News

It seems that two weeks after a first vaccine dose, the number of infections is one third lower than in the unvaccinated. That’s what Ran Balicer, doctor-epidemiologist of the largest Israeli healthcare organizations Clalit Health Services, says. Given the decision of Minister De Jonge not to keep all vaccines in stock for a second shot, such information is important. This is how Medisch Contact reports.

Israel is in the spotlight because it is at the forefront of vaccination of the population. The real effect of a large-scale vaccination campaign will therefore have to be visible there first.

Currently, about a quarter of the population has received a first dose, and even 75 percent of the over-60s. About one in 40 Israelis has already received a second dose.

Effect from day 14
Comparative research has been done between 200,000 vaccinated and an equal number of unvaccinated people over 60, says Balicer. He has not yet published the results in a scientific journal. There is no clear difference in the number of infections until day 12 after the first injection, but from day 14 the percentage of PCR positive infections is one third lower in vaccinees.

That is a lot lower than previously assumed, partly by British policymakers who therefore dared to postpone the second injection in order to give as many people as possible a first dose as soon as possible. They assumed an effectiveness of 89 percent from two weeks after the first dose.

There are scientists who do not consider it an unfavorable result. These indicate that in the Israeli situation there may also be some group protection, as the unvaccinated people also come into contact with vaccinated people. The total number of infections in the entire group would therefore be lower, but the difference between the two would actually be smaller.

The total number of daily infections is still high in Israel. Balicer expects to see an effect from the vaccination campaign in the coming week. Within three weeks, the number of serious cases should fall by half according to his calculations.

Omsk doctor spoke about the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine | HEALTH

Head of the epidemiological department of the city hospital № 1 named after Kabanova Ivan Melnikov spoke about the side effects of vaccination against COVID-19. According to him, after the administration of the vaccine, the patient may experience painful sensations, swelling at the injection sites, and chills.

In some cases, the temperature rises, the head begins to ache, fatigue occurs, and pains in muscles and joints.

“Some people experience nausea, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes – everything will depend on individual intolerance. Many who have already experienced the vaccination, note a slight increase in temperature, but these symptoms disappear on the second day, “the specialist said in an interview with Novy Omsk.

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Any movement matters. WHO updates its recommendations on physical activity for the first time in 10 years | Future

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In terms of the propaganda model, the media are seen as businesses selling goods – readers and audiences (not news) – to other businesses (advertisers, governments).

That is, if you did not pay for what you are reading, then someone else paid for you to read it.

Republic authors and editors are paid only from subscribers’ money.

US studies: Apple Watch can detect Covid-19 days before the outbreak

Apple Watch: The smartwatch provides precise data on heart rate, blood pressure and, more recently, oxygen saturation in the blood.

© Picture Alliance/dpa/Apple

More and more smartwatches can precisely measure the heart rate of their wearers. According to US scientists, this can help detect Covid-19 infections at an early stage.

  • In the fight against the Corona* Pandemic, researchers are now also using fitness trackers like this Apple* Watch.
  • They provide precise data for Heart rate.
  • They want that scientist take advantage now.

Munich – Smartwatches like that Apple Watch* and fitness trackers from other manufacturers such as Garmin or Fitbit can help Covid-19– Recognize diseases – even before there are symptoms. This is reported by the US television broadcaster CBS, citing relevant studies by the world-famous Stanford University and the university clinic Mount Sinai in New York.

In their investigations, the researchers made use of the sensors for measuring the heart rate in the fitness trackers. They have long been standard in smartwatches. In the meantime, the corresponding technology is so sophisticated that the Clever watches can measure even the smallest changes in the heartbeat of their wearers. And that’s exactly where the researchers come in.

Because with the spread of an infection, the so-called also changes Heart rate variability (HRV), i.e. the range of fluctuation between two heartbeats. In healthy people, the corresponding variability is around a tenth of a second. An infection like Covid-19 leads to an extremely violent defense reaction of the body, the corresponding heart rate variability decreases.

While the nervous system is wide awake in healthy people and can therefore react more quickly to changed conditions such as the increased need for oxygen when climbing stairs, the ability to react in people with a virus disease is like Covid-19 much lower. “This change allows us to predict whether a person is sick before they even know,” said study author Professor Rob Shepherds from Mount Sinai Hospital across from CBS. According to the study, which was based exclusively on data from the Apple Watch and the iPhone, corresponding changes in HRV values ​​could be made on average six days before the first signs of a Corona-Prove disease.

Apple Watch: Disease information days before the outbreak of the corona symptoms

Researchers at Stanford University came to a similar conclusion. After that, 81 percent had the Corona-positive subjects had an increased heartbeat days before the onset of the first symptoms, according to an article for the US magazine Nature Biomedical Engineering from last November. Besides the Apple Watch, comparable models from Garmin or Fitbit were also used – with comparable results.

However, the researchers indicated in their work that their results were only an intermediate stage. Changes in heart rate and heart rate variability did not necessarily indicate Covid 19 disease, as other infections also led to similar changes in HRV and heartbeat. In addition, the values ​​would have to be significantly higher in investigations Covid-19– Sick people are checked, they say. Conversely, however, the data would offer another starting point to contain the spread of the pandemic, it is said. * Merkur.de is part of the Ippen Digital network.

Endurance sports can help lower your resting heart rate

If the heart continues to beat too fast, that is not healthy. The good news: with the right exercise, you can help lower your resting heart rate. FITBOOK explains what to look out for.

Exercise can help to permanently lower the resting heart rate. In particular, endurance sports such as jogging, cycling or swimming should be able to “lower the frequency”. This explains Prof. Michael Böhm from the German Cardiac Society.

Which resting heart rate is ideal?

The pulse or heart rate stands for the number of heartbeats per minute.

According to the German Heart Foundation, the resting heart rate – i.e. the resting heart rate – is normally around 60 to 80 beats per minute in adults. With seniors it could easily increase again. In older children and adolescents it is around 80 to 100 beats, in toddlers and babies the resting heart rate is even higher.

By the way, on the other side of the scale are marathon runners. You would have a particularly low resting heart rate of 30 to 40 beats per minute. “You can’t say whether that’s healthy,” says Böhm.

Also interesting: can you specifically influence your heart rate?

When does a high resting heart rate become a concern?

In general, a high resting heart rate can be a risk indicator for certain cardiovascular diseases. A pathologically fast heartbeat of more than 100 beats per minute is a case for medical treatment, according to Böhm.

For people with cardiac insufficiency, a resting heart rate of more than 70 is a risk factor. The so-called relaxation phase, in which the heart muscle relaxes a little, is shorter with a high pulse.

Lowering your resting heart rate can extend your life

For patients with cardiac insufficiency, it could be life-extending to lower the resting heart rate. According to Böhm, they can and should stay fit by exercising regularly and continuously in a controlled manner. It can take months for an effect to appear. Important: that you seek medical advice in advance and ask questions about the appropriate frequency and intensity. The cardiologist recommends special cardiac exercise groups.

Also interesting: Can you train too much for the cardiovascular system?

How do you measure your resting heart rate?

The resting heart rate is ideally measured in the morning shortly after getting up. According to the Heart Foundation, those who do it during the day should sit or lie down for a few minutes beforehand. Since infections, stress and other factors influence the heartbeat, it is best to measure the value over several days and calculate the average in order to get the most accurate impression possible.

Less prevention, more venereal diseases | Nachrichten.at

Although interpersonal contacts decreased in the corona pandemic due to numerous lockdowns, doctors at the Innsbruck Medical University have warned of an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. In 2020, significantly fewer people came to the preventive check-ups, explained Mario Sarcletti, senior physician at the special clinic for HIV and venereal diseases.

Figures from Lombardy and Milan have shown that the cases of gonorrhea (gonorrhea) and hard chancre (syphilis) increased in comparison from 2019 to 2020 despite the lockdowns. Similar figures would also be available from some regions in Germany.

The number of HIV-negative people at the special outpatient clinic of the Clinic for Dermatology in Innsbruck also decreased in 2020, while the number of HIV-positive remained the same. This shows that fewer people came to the screening to get tested, said Sarcletti.

In the case of sexually transmitted diseases, it is particularly dangerous not to go to an examination because the diseases are often passed on if they are not discovered in time. The doctor therefore appealed to everyone to attend the examinations despite the lockdown.

In Austria there has been a general tendency towards an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, especially among men, said Sarcletti.

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Less prevention, more venereal diseases | Nachrichten.at

Although interpersonal contacts decreased in the corona pandemic due to numerous lockdowns, doctors at the Innsbruck Medical University have warned of an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. In 2020, significantly fewer people came to the preventive check-ups, explained Mario Sarcletti, senior physician at the special clinic for HIV and venereal diseases.

Figures from Lombardy and Milan have shown that the cases of gonorrhea (gonorrhea) and hard chancre (syphilis) increased in comparison from 2019 to 2020 despite the lockdowns. Similar figures would also be available from some regions in Germany.

The number of HIV-negative people at the special outpatient clinic of the Clinic for Dermatology in Innsbruck also decreased in 2020, while the number of HIV-positive remained the same. This shows that fewer people came to the screening to get tested, said Sarcletti.

In the case of sexually transmitted diseases, it is particularly dangerous not to go to an examination because the diseases are often passed on if they are not discovered in time. The doctor therefore appealed to everyone to attend the examinations despite the lockdown.

In Austria there has been a general tendency towards an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, especially among men, said Sarcletti.

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Research: Radiation boost reduces risk of prostate cancer recurrence | NOW

An extra radiation boost for prostate cancer patients reduces the chance that the disease will return within five years. This is evident from the FLAME trial, a large study by the UMC Utrecht, the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, UZ Leuven and the Radboudumc, which was recently published in the scientific journal Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the Netherlands. Every year, more than twelve thousand men are told that they have prostate cancer. In more than half, the cancer cells have not yet spread, according to figures from the Integrated Cancer Center Netherlands. There are various treatment options, including radiation, hormone therapy and surgical removal of the prostate.

The research is good news for men with non-metastatic prostate cancer who receive radiation therapy for it. Although the scan often only shows the main tumor, doctors still irradiate the entire prostate, because the cancer cells are usually in several places.

“When the disease returns, it is regularly exactly where the visible tumor was,” says radiation oncologist and principal investigator Linda Kerkmeijer of the UMC Utrecht and Radboudumc. “That is why we decided to investigate whether an extra radiation boost would have an effect on that spot.”

No additional side effects

In the study, almost six hundred patients received 35 radiation treatments. Half received an extra radiation boost to the tumor and the other half did not. In the first group, the cancer came back in fewer participants in the first five years after treatment than in the other group.

“Recurring prostate cancer involves uncertainty and heavy follow-up treatments, such as surgery or hormone therapy. With this new treatment the chance of this decreases considerably. “

Floris Pos, radiotherapeut

Kerkmeijer: “The extra dose of radiation halves the proportion of men whose PSA value – an important indicator for prostate cancer – rises again in the first five years after treatment; it fell from 15 to 8 percent. Moreover, the radiation boost did not cause any additional side effects. . “

Treatment can save a lot of suffering

The treatment is now available at UMC Utrecht, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and Radboudumc. According to radiotherapist Floris Pos of the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, a substantial number of men benefit from the new treatment. “Every year we irradiate hundreds of men in the Netherlands who are eligible for this treatment.”

It can save patients a lot of suffering, according to Pos. “Recurrent prostate cancer involves uncertainty, new investigations and heavy follow-up treatments, such as surgery or hormone therapy. With this new treatment, the risk of this is significantly reduced.”

Only irradiate five times

When the FLAME trial started, the standard treatment for this group of patients was irradiation 35 times. In recent years, this has been adjusted to twenty times. For men with a less aggressive form, it even concerns five treatments.

Kerkmeijer: “We have already started a follow-up study. We want to see whether the new boost treatment is also effective when we combine it with radiation only five times. It is therefore possible that the treatment of prostate cancer by means of radiation will be even less stressful in the future.”

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QIAGEN confirms effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests in light of new mutations in the coronavirus

QIAGEN NV (NYSE: QGEN; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) announced today that the accuracy and effectiveness of its polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 infections will not be affected by new mutations. The company will also continue to closely monitor the performance of these tests as global concerns about the detection of new virus variants through established testing methods increase.

QIAGEN has successfully checked its SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests for genetic mutations of the virus, which have been uploaded to the public databases GISAID and GenBank since May 2020. A recent control carried out in January 2021 again confirmed that no known mutations impair the sensitivity of the QIAGEN tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. Monitoring for genetic variations continues on a bi-weekly basis.

“We are pleased to report that the known viral variants did not affect the effectiveness of our three SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests – PCR remains the gold standard for the detection of RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2,” said Davide Manissero, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Infection and Immune Diagnostics at QIAGEN. “Further genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples carried out worldwide will increase the transparency enormously and help us to identify and react to potentially dangerous mutations of the virus. At the same time, this will expand the database with which we can check whether vaccines and tests are still effective. ”

Variants with potentially increased transferability include VUI 202012/01 (first discovered in the UK), 501Y.V2 (identified in South Africa) and B.1.1.28 P1 (last discovered in Brazil). As a virus that is encoded by RNA nucleotides, SARS-CoV-2 often mutates through faulty or ineffective replication of the virus genome. These mutations can sometimes produce viruses with changed properties or even completely new strains.

The full press release can be found here

More information about QIAGEN’s solutions in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 can be found here