FOCUS – The B.1.526 mutation accounts for a quarter of tests sequenced in New York State. Researchers fear a lack of effectiveness of vaccines and treatments.
B.1.526. This barbaric name thrills American health authorities. This is the scientific name for the New York variant of the coronavirus. The mutation, first observed last November on Manhattan Island, has replicated at a rapid pace to now account for 25% of Covid-19 cases statewide. The strain appears to be spreading throughout the northeastern United States at a rapid pace. Two pre-published studies corroborate this recent discovery: that of the California Institute of Technology, which tracks mutations using dedicated software, and that of Columbia University, based on the sequencing of PCR tests. Dr.Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, explained on Monday March 1 that the Biden administration was taking “very seriously the emergenceOf this strain. According to him, she would have appeared in the Washington Heights neighborhood, between Harlem and the Bronx. “Many unknowns remainHe admits.
The mutation is once again located on the Spike protein, the “crown” of the virus, which is used to enter the human cell. A priori, the mutant would seem to touch “older and more frequently hospitalized patientsThan other strains, says the Columbia University study. It would also be “more transmissible“. “If the mutation becomes more frequent, it is necessarily that it has an advantage in terms of contagiousness», Decrypts Philippe Amouyel, professor of public health at the University Hospital of Lille, joined by Le Figaro. In January, the B.1.526 variant only represented 3% of samples collected in New York State, compared to a quarter today. “It is no coincidence that the mutation is gaining momentum in the United States, explains to Figaro Antoine Flahault, Professor of Public Health at the University of Geneva. A variant has more free field in parts of the world where the virus circulates a lot“.
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Main bad news: this strain from New York has mutations in common with the South African. Thus, like her “big sister”, she could be less sensitive to treatments based on monoclonal antibodies, and to certain types of vaccines. According to Philippe Amouyel, however, we should not panic: these deductions do not relate to the total immune response. They do not take into account the effect “slightly larger mucous membrane antibodies“. Not considering “the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be 60% effectiveOn the South African variant, still according to the doctor, and could therefore be well suited to the New York strain.
Researchers recommend that B.1.526 be followed closely. “Ideally, with a zero Covid strategy, we should not allow this variant to enter the territory, put in place a reinforced control of people arriving from the United States.s ”, suggests Antoine Flahault. Overall, “it is necessary to detect the variants very early to be one step ahead», Concludes Philippe Amouyel. According to him, it is urgent to put in place a “global virus genome evolution monitoring system.“
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