A new strain of COVID-19 detected in the UK and present in Nigeria may be resistant to the current vaccines, experts have warned.
Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, warned that the mutation; thought to have been first detected in Nigeria, has now been found in the UK.
University of Edinburgh researchers have reportedly found 32 cases of the B1525 variant in Britain so far. The UK Daily Post quotes The Mirror as reporting how experts at the university say this new strain contains the E484K mutation to the spike protein. This mutation has been found in the South Africa and Brazil variants. Specifically, it is believed to help the disease evade the antibodies which destroy it.
In a chat with the UK Guardian, Dr Clarke disclosed that current vaccines may provide little immunity to the new strain.
“We don’t yet know how well this [new] variant will spread. But if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted. I think that until we know more about these variants. Any variants which carry E484K should be subject to surge testing; as it seems to confer resistance to immunity, however that is generated.”
More than 100 cases of the B1525 variant have been found around the world; according to the University of Edinburgh team. The first example was reportedly found in late December in Nigeria. Nigeria reportedly discovered 12 cases in 51 swabs, while the UK identified 33 infections from more than 70,600 swabs.
Vaccine companies previously say jabs work less effectively against the E484K mutation. However, experts are confident the vaccine will protect people from serious illness and death.
Meanwhile, a new study found the Pfizer jab is effective against the South Africa variant.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that the vaccine neutralises the virus with the N501Y and E484K mutation.
Experts at New York University also reportedly discovered the immune antibodies made by the vaccine were still able to destroy the virus; although the body did not make as many antibodies.