Scientists have issued a warning as a new mutant Covid strain is rising in New York City which appears to be partially resistant to vaccines.
A team of scientists from Columbia University published an “alarming” report in the scientific journal Nature.
The report highlights two signature mutations which are E484K and N501Y otherwise known as the Lota variant, which shows similarities with other variants of concern.
N501Y is the main driver for the rapid transmission of B.1.1.7 globally, which is known as the Alpha variant, whilst E484K is crucial in neutralising that activity of antibodies.
Lead author David Ho and his team wrote, “Recent months have seen surges of SARS-CoV-2 infection across the globe with considerable viral evolution1–3.
“Extensive mutations in the spike protein may threaten the efficacy of vaccines and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies4.”
The report added, “This variant is partially or completely resistant to two therapeutic monoclonal antibodies in clinical use and less susceptible to neutralisation by convalescent plasma or vaccine sera, posing a modest antigenic challenge.
“The B.1.526 lineage has now been reported from all 50 states in the United States and numerous other countries.
“B.1.526 rapidly replaced earlier lineages in New York upon its emergence, with an estimated transmission advantage of 35 percent.
“Such transmission dynamics, together with the relative antibody resistance of its E484K sub-lineage, probably contributed to the sharp rise and rapid spread of B.1.526.
“Although SARS-CoV-2 B.1.526 initially outpaced B.1.1.7 in the region, its growth subsequently slowed concurrent with the rise of B.1.1.7 and ensuing variants.”
Lead scientist Ho said on the Columbia University website, “The rise of these variants shows that we may be chasing after SARS-CoV-2 for some time.
“Unfortunately, this pandemic may not go away so easily with the advent of the vaccines.”
Co-author Anne-Catrin Uhlemann said, “It’s worrying that in the New York City region, case numbers don’t seem to be declining as rapidly as in other areas of the country.
“Physical distancing and masks will slow the spread of all variants, and we need to double down on those efforts.”