The new variant of the coronavirus causing covid-19 and that it has emerged in Spain will not have any negative impact on the development of a vaccine, the lead author of the study said today. “We think that the mutation will not affect the efficacy of the vaccine,” said the scientist Emma Hodcroft from Swiss University of Basel, institution that has led the research in collaboration with the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich and the Spanish consortium SegCovid-Spain, headed by the Higher Center for Scientific Research (CSIC). As he explained, the vaccine targets specific parts of the virus that are not affected by the mutation. According to what scientists know, Valencia would have been the first place where the variant circulated among the local population and there were initial cases among agricultural workers in the region of Aragon.
In the genetic sequences that scientists are extracting from coronavirus tests throughout Europe, the variant that appeared in Spain (probably between the end of May and the beginning of June) represents 29% of the total, while the second most expanded appears in 22 % of cases and is the one that circulates essentially in France and Belgium. However, it is normal for viruses to mutate frequently and, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, which causes covid-19, this happens about twice a month. This is perfectly normal, there is nothing to be alarmed about. In fact, SARS-CoV-2 is a very stable virus. What we want to convey is that although there are mutations, this does not change the structure of the virus or how it works, ”Hodcroft stressed.
Dozens of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are in various stages of research and development of vaccine candidates, with a dozen of them being massively tested to determine their efficacy and level of safety. The genetic change suffered by the new variant of the coronavirus has neither increased its ability to spread nor its severity. “It is very important to clarify that there is no evidence that the mutation is the cause of the spread of this variant and rather we think it has to do with travel,” Hodcroft said in a virtual press conference. “Cases increased again in Spain much earlier than in most European countries, with the exception of Belgium, and this coincides with the time when travel was resumed,” he added.
The fact that few countries made negative recent test results for travel as a condition and that people were trusted to voluntarily quarantine may have been the biggest weaknesses of the prevention measures that were being adopted then. The authors of the study think that the Spanish variant is not responsible for the second wave of the pandemic that Europe suffers, but the fact that governments have taken belated measures as autumn approaches, a season that lends itself to the transmission of viruses .
“People hang out with each other indoors, close their doors, reduce ventilation and turn on heaters, all of which allow the virus travels more easily in the air »Hodcroft explained.
Contagion between temps
Hodcroft considered that the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus in seasonal workers shows that when the most vulnerable are not protected, the entire society ends up being vulnerable. «This is not the first study to reveal that there was outbreaks among immigrant workers and among those who live in overcrowded conditions»He commented.
The variant discovered and very present these days in Europe comes, like others that have been identified, from the original coronavirus discovered in China at the end of 2019 and are part of the same family, so it should not be considered as something new.
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