Experts rule out that the new strain from Rio de Janeiro is more contagious and more lethal. (Photo: Adobe Stock)
The variant of the coronavirus present in Brazil already circulates in Argentina. And the news quickly triggered the first questions: is it more contagious? Is it more lethal? How is it different from what we know about the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Are vaccines used to contain it?
In statements to A24, Ginés González García, Minister of Health of the Nation, affirmed that the finding “We are concerned”, because the mutation “It is more contagiousAccording to what we have spoken with people from the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro ”. However, he clarified that “Vaccines would serve to counteract it”.
TN.com.ar contacted experts who shed light on the matter. Mariana Viegas, biochemist, virologist and director of the PAIS project, which detected the new mutation in Argentina S_E484K which this Tuesday was confirmed by the Malbrán Institute, said: “In certain experiments in vitro there was a reduction in the neutralization of monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies, such as convalescent sera ”.
“That there is a change in a position catches our attention. We have to keep an eye on it, because if that mutation is added to many more, it could be a problem. But it is a variant and nothing more. Viruses, when they replicate in many people, mutate ”, he deepened.
However, Viegas clarified that “We have to stay calm, because the Brazilian variant is no more contagious, as is the case with the England variant. Nor is it going to escape vaccines with that mutation and it does not generate a more severe disease “.
“It is not that there was one strain and now there is another. There are multiple variants in our country and this is one more “, concluded the scientist and researcher from CONICET.
“So far there is only genetic information. We know that it attacks the F protein, the external part of the virus and on which they are designed most vaccines that began to be applied, “he added Mario Lozano placeholder image, biochemist, virologist and researcher at CONICET.
The specialist remarked that the appearance of new variants “is a natural question of the physiology of viruses”, and that the mutation from Rio de Janeiro “It is not more lethal or more contagious”.
“The possibility that the UK strain is more contagious is now being discussed, but there are also no certainties. And the reality is that the increase in cases there is not only a product of the new strain, but rather of the new social conditions that govern, ”Lozano deepened.
However, he clarified that “What we cannot know yet is whether this strain from Rio de Janeiro has a higher degree of escape from vaccines”.
Is it possible to prevent the appearance of new strains?
In addition to the variant of Rio de Janeiro and that of the United Kingdom, hours before Christmas the appearance of a variant of the virus in South Africa was confirmed. And the question arises: can you prevent mutations that in turn generate new risks?
“Yes. The way is avoiding the spread of the virus “Lozano said. “Viruses can mutate in a single day. However, the most serious problem is when they jump an animal, because in this variation very different strains can arise “, he expanded
The clearest example during 2020 was seen in Europe with minks. In November, Denmark euthanized 15 million of these animals for a “risky” mutation of the coronavirus. Something similar had happened months before in Holland.